Last May, Minnesota Vikings punter and outspoken gay marriage advocate Chris Kluwe was released from his contract with the team for what his superiors say were reasons "based on his football performance." Today, as one of his former coaches, Mike Priefer, faces the possibility of a promotion, Kluwe released a new, complete account of the months leading up to his termination on Deadspin, and in it he calls Priefer a bigot and head coach Leslie Frazier a coward.
Kluwe details the various events, remarks, and conferences that came about following his decision in mid-2012 to speak out in support of marriage equality. You may recall that Kluwe wrote a bombastic open letter to Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. on behalf of Baltimore Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo who, like Kluwe, had spoken out in favor of marriage equality in Maryland. Burns wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti pushing him to silence Ayanbadejo, and Kluwe decided to make a public spectacle of the exchange, saying, among other things, "Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level," and "I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster."
That was in September 2012, just as Kluwe was coming into his own as that rare bird: A spokesman for gay rights in professional sports. Kluwe says that it was right around that same time that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf came up to him before a game to commend him for his outspoken support of gay marriage, saying he had just been to the gay wedding of his son's best friend and "it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen." When Kluwe was confronted by head coach Leslie Frazier about the muckraking he was doing, via the letter to Burns, Kluwe told him about Wilf's comments and Frazier conceded that he'd "been overruled."
But it was one of the assistant coaches, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who gets the lion's share of Kluwe's vitriol. He details how Priefer made multiple homophobic statements in the ensuing months, and began to imply through his actions that he was punishing Kluwe for his views. To wit:
He would ask me if I had written any letters defending "the gays" recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance. I tried to laugh these off while also responding with the notion that perhaps they were human beings who deserved to be treated as human beings. Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible.
As we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."
Fast forward to April of 2013, and Kluwe found out that a punter had been drafted to replace him. A few days later, in May, he was officially fired. Kluwe claims that it was pressure from Priefer, and not his record as a punter (he claims to have been the best punter in Vikings history), that caused him to lose his job.
On Monday of this week, head coach Frazier was fired for the Vikings' poor performance this season, and Kluwe is taking the opportunity to do what he can to make sure that Priefer doesn't get promoted to the position. "If there's one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it's to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level."
Kluwe's post follows on swirling rumors last week that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was due to come out of the closet last year along with a couple of other players, before the plug was pulled on that plan. According to a source close to Rodgers, his longtime "assistant" Kevin Lanflisi was actually his longtime boyfriend, and Lanflisi had posted a some cryptic tweets recently, including one that said, "Silence always comes with an expiration date."