Vikings suspend Priefer 3 games after probe
Eden Prairie, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Vikings have suspended special teams coordinator Mike Priefer three regular season games without pay for making a homophobic comment to former punter Chris Kluwe.
The results of a nearly six-month independent investigation started by the team over claims Kluwe made in an online article were released by the Vikings on Friday.
According to a 29-page memo, the investigation turned up evidence Priefer made a homophobic statement to Kluwe, but not the many the former punter alleged in his first-person account earlier this year.
The memo says the evidence doesn't support Kluwe's claim that he was released by the Vikings in May 2013 because of his vocal support of marriage equality and gay rights.
Priefer's suspension can be reduced to two games if he attends individualized anti-harassment, diversity and sexual-orientation sensitivity training.
The Vikings, who have required all employees to attend sensitivity training the past several years, said they were donating $100,000 to LGBT charities.
"I owe an apology to many people -- the Wilf family, the Minnesota Vikings organization and fans, my family, the LGBT community, Chris Kluwe and anyone else that I offended with my insensitive remark," Priefer said in a statement.
"I regret what has occurred and what I said. I am extremely sorry but I will learn from this situation and will work on educating others to create more tolerance and respect."
The Vikings ordered the investigation after Kluwe made his claims in a January article published by Deadspin.com titled "I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot."
Kluwe tweeted Friday that he was still pursuing a lawsuit against the Vikings and would seek "max damages" that he would donate to LBGT charities.
"This is not about the money for me," Kluwe wrote. "This is about doing what's right."
The former punter was critical of several passages of the memo that detailed his alleged locker room behavior.
In his article, Kluwe said then-Vikings coach Leslie Frazier asked him to stop speaking out on behalf of marriage equality. Kluwe said Vikings owner Zygi Wilf supported his activism.
According to the memo, the probe failed to turn up evidence that members of the organization attempted to discourage Kluwe from his activism, saying only that "players and management were concerned about the distraction that Kluwe's activism was creating, as opposed to the nature and content of his activism."
Zygi Wilf and his brother, Vikings team president Mark Wilf, said they were disappointed with some of the findings contained in the report.
They "consistently strive to create -- and believe we have -- a supportive, respectful and accepting environment for our players, coaches and staff, and we strongly disassociate the club from the statement that coach Priefer made," the statement says.
Kluwe averaged 44.4 yards per punt over eight seasons, all with the Vikings. He was released in September by the Oakland Raiders after failing to win their punting job.
Investigators hired former Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo and former Pro Bowl punter Craig Hentrich to analyze Kluwe's 2012 season amid his claims he was released for non-performance reasons. Based on the analysis, the investigators concluded Kluwe was released "for football performance reasons and not his views on marriage equality."
07/18 23:32:43 ET