Minnesota Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer has issued a denial after former punter Chris Kuwe alleged that Priefer used homophobic language around Kluwe, a supporter of gay marriage.
“I vehemently deny today’s allegations made by Chris Kluwe,” Priefer said in a statement via an email to KFAN. “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. 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 was cut by the Vikings and called Priefer a “bigot” and general manager Rick Spielman and former coach Leslie Frazier “cowards.”
He expressed an opinion that he was cut because of his advocacy of gay marriage.
The Vikings issued a statement.
“The Minnesota Vikings were made aware of Chris Kluwe’s allegations for the first time today. We take them very seriously and will thoroughly review this matter,” the statement said. “As an organization, the Vikings consistently strive to create a supportive, respectful and accepting environment for all of our players, coaches and front office personnel. We do not tolerate discrimination at any level.
“The team has long respected our players’ and associates’ individual rights, and, as Chris specifically stated, Vikings ownership supports and promotes tolerance, including on the subject of marriage equality. Because he was identified with the Vikings, Chris was asked to be respectful while expressing his opinions. Team ownership and management also repeatedly emphasized to Chris that the Vikings would not impinge on his right to express his views. Any notion that Chris was released from our football team due to his stance on marriage equality is entirely inaccurate and inconsistent with team policy. Chris was released strictly based on his football performance. We will have further comment at the appropriate time.”
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.