MINNEAPOLIS -- A group of state lawmakers are asking the Vikings to deal more harshly with special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who admitted making anti-gay remarks in a conversation with former punter Chris Kluwe.
Priefer drew a three-game suspension for remarks he said were in jest, while criticizing Kluwe for becoming outspoken on the issue of LGBT rights. The story came out after a lengthy legal investigation into whether the team released Kluwe because of his gay rights activism.
"A threat made in such a violent way, talking about 'rounding up LGBT people and nuking them on a island.' This is really beyond the pale of anything acceptable in civic discourse, especially from someone in a high profile position such as a Vikings coach," Rep. Frank Hornstein of Minneapolis told KARE Saturday.
Hornstein is one of 17 Twin Cities Democratic lawmakers who signed a letter delivered on Friday to Vikings owner and chairman Zygi Wilf, and copied to Gov. Mark Dayton.
"Racism, homophobia, discrimination in sports in unacceptable no matter where it comes from," Hornstein remarked. "And again, this should be taken much more seriously by the Vikings organization."
The letter was penned by Sen. Scott Dibble, a gay Minneapolis legislator and chief author of the Freedom to Marry Act in the Senate in 2013, which opened the door to same-sex marriages in Minnesota.
"This remark was outrageous when you stop and think about it," Dibble told KARE. "Can you imagine someone saying the same thing about any other minority group? People shouldn't joke about genocide and get away with it."
In his letter to Wilf, Dibble pointed out that L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA and ordered to sell his team for making racially charged remarks to a female friend.
"Donald Sterling's highly offensive bigoted remarks did not come close to calling for the destruction of an entire class of individuals."
The Vikings organization issued the following statement to KARE in response to the letter:
"The Vikings retained two highly-respected and experienced lawyers to conduct a thorough and independent investigation of the claims made by Chris Kluwe. The results of their exhaustive six month investigation were provided to a leading employment law firm for review.
"As a result of the findings, we have taken the appropriate actions to hold individuals accountable and to ensure we continue to have a workplace environment that respects tolerance, diversity and inclusion. We have addressed this matter completely and are unable to comment further due to pending litigation."
The lawmakers' letteralso pointed out the Vikings' new stadium in Minneapolis is being built, in part, with public money and the 2018 Super Bowl in Minnesota will benefit from tax exemptions used to attract the NFL's premiere event.
Hornstein, in calling on the Vikings to release the full investigative report on the Priefer matter, said the public's investment in the Vikings' stadium comes with an expectation of more transparency.
"Their accountability to the public, I think, is even more important given the fact the state taxpayers are bankrolling, in large part, this facility," Hornstein said.