MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings will suspend special teams coordinator Mike Priefer without pay for three games this season and donate $100,000 to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights groups, in response to former punter Chris Kluwe's allegations of anti-gay remarks made by Priefer.
The Vikings released Friday a summary of the investigation by independent lawyers that was initiated in January, when Kluwe first accused Priefer and other Vikings officials of punishing him for his outspoken support of gay marriage. Kluwe was let go before the 2013 season, which he contended was because of his views.
The investigation found that "there is support .... that Priefer made the single homophobic statement to Kluwe…that Priefer made this statement after becoming frustrated that (Cullen) Loeffler and Kluwe were not focused on football during practice…There is no support in the record that Priefer made any additional statements of this nature."
The Vikings said Priefer's ban could be reduced to two games at their discretion if he attends individualized sensitivity training.
Kluwe says as soon as Monday, he intends to sue the team over allegations of anti-gay conduct by Preiefer. His decision came after negotiations on a settlement broke down on Friday.
Kluwe's lawyer says the suit will ask for damages in excess of $10 million.
Here are the Vikings statements released Friday evening:
The following statements are from Coach Priefer and Vikings Owners Mark and Zygi Wilf:
I owe an apology to many people - the Wilf family, the Minnesota Vikings organization and fans, my family, the LGBT community, Chris Kluwe and anyone else that I offended with my insensitive remark. I regret what has occurred and what I said. I am extremely sorry but I will learn from this situation and will work on educating others to create more tolerance and respect. – Mike Priefer
We want to express our appreciation to former Chief Justice Magnuson and Mr. Madel of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi for their highly professional and thorough efforts to compile a complete independent investigation that would find the facts. They and their colleagues proceeded where the evidence led them and were in full control of the investigation at all times.
We are also grateful to Donald Prophete and Littler Mendelson for their detailed work in reviewing the investigative information and providing conclusions on the allegations in their report. We are pleased that they concluded that there was no wrongdoing on the club's part and that the decision to release Chris was based on his on-field performance.
We are very disappointed with some of the findings contained within the report. As we have said in the past, we consistently strive to create – and believe we have – a supportive, respectful and accepting environment for our players, coaches and staff, and we strongly disassociate the club from the statement that Coach Priefer made. Coach Priefer is a good man, and we know that he deeply regrets the comment. We do not believe that this error in judgment should define him.
Accountability, however, is important both on and off the field. In this instance, Coach Priefer fell short of what is expected. Accordingly, we have decided to suspend Coach Priefer without pay for the first three games of the 2014 regular season. In addition, he will be required to satisfactorily complete specialized workplace training that will include an emphasis on the managing of diversity and sexual orientation. If Coach Priefer completes this training and conducts himself in accordance with our workplace policies, we will consider reducing the length of his suspension by one game.
We will continue to hold all team members accountable and take the outlined critical steps to further educate everyone within our organization both individually and collectively. We will accept nothing less than creating a franchise that Minnesotans and Vikings fans everywhere can be proud of on and off the field. – Mark Wilf/Zygi Wilf