Chris Kluwe had always been one of the NFL’s most vocal proponents of gay rights, and the punter now says that was the reason the Minnesota Vikings decided to cut ties with him last year.
Kluwe was cut by the Vikings in May and, despite a handful of tryouts, was not able to make an NFL roster this season.
Now in a story published by Deadspin, Kluwe claims that his vocal advocacy for gay rights led the Vikings to cut him loose.
In the article, Chris Kluwe wrote:
“At the time [I was cut], quite a few people asked me if I thought it was because of my recent activism for same-sex marriage rights, and I was very careful in how I answered the question. My answer, verbatim, was always, “I honestly don’t know, because I’m not in those meetings with the coaches and administrative people.”
“This is a true answer. I honestly don’t know if my activism was the reason I got fired.
“However, I’m pretty confident it was.”
Kluwe wrote a letter in 2012 to a Maryland lawmaker who spoke out against Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayandabejo for his gay rights advocacy. The letter, which chastised the lawmaker, went viral and earned Kluwe some attention from Vikings coaches.
At that point Kluwe said that Vikings coach Leslie Frazier expressed his hesitancy to have Kluwe speak out, but the punter refused to stay silent on the issue.
Things got worse from there, Chris Kluwe said. He claimed that the team stopped forwarding the many media requests coming his way, and Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer began going out of his way to use homophobic language in practices.
Kluwe wrote that Priefer became increasingly critical of him from that point on, leading to his being cut in May.
Chris Kluwe admits an ulterior motive with the timing of his story. Leslie Frazier was cut this week, and Mike Priefer is considered to be the only in-house candidate. Kluwe said he hopes that never happens.
“If there’s one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it’s to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level,” Kluwe wrote.
Shortly after the article was published, Priefer responded and said that he he is not a bigot.
“I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals. I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member,” he wrote.
Chris Kluwe said he still hopes to play in the NFL again, but admits that will never happen again after his speaking out.