"Vikings Won’t Release Independent Report On Whether Their Punter Was Fired For LGBT Advocacy"
The Minnesota Vikings have decided not to publicly release the findings of an independent internal investigation into whether the team cut former punter Chris Kluwe over his outspoken advocacy for LGBT equality, Kluwe and his attorney asserted in a press release Tuesday. The team, according to the release, informed Kluwe’s attorney Monday that it would withhold the report from Kluwe even after months of promising to make the findings public.
The investigation is a result of allegations Kluwe made against the franchise in a Deadspin column published in January, when he asserted that he was cut from the team after refusing to remain quiet about his LGBT advocacy. Kluwe wrote in the column that then-head coach Leslie Frazier had asked him to cease his public advocacy for marriage equality both at the Minnesota state level and across the country, and that special teams coach Mike Priefer made homophobic remarks to and around Kluwe and often criticized his pro-equality efforts, which included work with Minnesotans for Marriage Equality and a co-authored brief (with fellow NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo) in a Supreme Court case involving a California marriage law. “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows,” Priefer said during one special teams meeting, Kluwe wrote in the column.
The Vikings cut Kluwe in May 2013 after his eighth season with the team.
“I honestly don’t know if my activism was the reason I got fired,” Kluwe wrote. “However, I’m pretty confident it was.”
Kluwe will hold a press conference today to call on the franchise to release the report to both him and the public, according to the release from his attorney.
“The Vikings promised to make a full report of the investigation available to Kluwe and his attorney,” the release states. “Now, more than six months later, the investigators have handed over their report to the Vikings — and the Vikings refuse to give Kluwe a copy of the report.”
A source told KSTP news in Minneapolis that the Vikings were walking back their pledge to make the investigation’s findings public because they were “damaging and embarrassing” to the franchise. Two weeks ago, Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman tweeted that he had heard that the results of the investigation were “favorable to Kluwe.”
KSTP’s source told the station that the Vikings had already taken action to “correct any homophobic culture that exists within the organization.” But without releasing the report, its findings, or its recommendations, there is no way to assess how deep the problems ran within the organization or whether any such action has been taken. At the very least, refusing to make the findings public, no matter how “damaging and embarrassing” they might be, makes it look as if the Vikings are more interested in covering up whatever homophobia existed than they are in fixing it and preventing it in the future.
The Vikings fired Frazier in December, before Kluwe published his allegations, after he amassed a 21-32-1 record in three seasons as head coach. The franchise announced in February that Priefer would remain as the team’s special teams coach despite Kluwe’s assertions.
The law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller, & Ciresi*, which conducted the independent investigation, released an email statement in response to Kluwe, saying that they planned to discuss the issue with Kluwe and his attorney at a meeting scheduled before Kluwe’s statement today. Here is the statement in full:
“Chris Madel, Eric Magnuson, and Jennifer Robbins of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. met with Chris Kluwe’s attorney, Clayton Halunen, July 14 at 3:30 p.m. to discuss the status of the independent investigation and to arrange a meeting between Halunen and Vikings representatives for Thursday, July 17 to continue that discussion. At no time during the July 14 meeting did Madel, Magnuson, or Robbins tell Halunen that the Vikings “would not provide a copy of the report to either Kluwe or the public” as Halunen’s press release of this morning states. At the meeting, Halunen agreed to meet with Vikings representatives on Thursday, and that meeting is still scheduled. It is anticipated that issues relating to the investigation will be discussed at that meeting.”
*This update originally said the statement came from the Vikings. We apologize for the error.