Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer is denying he made former NFL punter Chris Kluwe the victim of homophobic comments. Kluwe wrote a 3,700-word article for Deadspin Thursday in which he called out his former coach and alleged that the Vikings fired him because of his advocacy for same-sex marriage.
“I vehemently deny today’s allegations made by Chris Kluwe,” Priefer said in a statement on Thursday, as per Paul Allen of KFAN. “I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals.”
Priefer continued: “I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member. The primary reason I entered coaching was to affect people in a positive way. As a coach, I have always created an accepting environment for my players, including Chris, and have looked to support them both on and off the field.
“The comments today have not only attacked my character and insulted my professionalism, but they have also impacted my family. While my career focus is to be a great professional football coach, my number one priority has always been to be a protective husband and father to my wife and children. I will continue to work hard for the Minnesota Vikings, the Wilf family and all of our loyal fans.”
Kluwe, 32, rose to notoriety during the 2012 football season for his gay-marriage activism. He wrote in Deadspin that he endured homophobic taunts from Preifer, who he labeled a “bigot.” The Vikings have responded to Kluwe’s allegations by saying they would investigate the matter.
The former punter titled his story, “I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot.” Kluwe believes that the only things players in the NFL are “allowed” to do is play on Sundays, and that activism of any type is not allowed.
“In the ideal NFL world, you show up to play on Sundays, and that's it -- they take you out of your box and put you back in,” Kluwe said. “Until we get past the idea that money is the overwhelming influence and you can't live your life at the same time, people will view activism as a distraction.”
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