Minneapolis, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has accused his former coaches of being cowardly and bigoted and cites that as the reason he was released before the 2013 season, that according to a piece he wrote and released Thursday on Deadspin.
Kluwe alleges he was released because of his stance on gay marriage and his open advocacy on gay rights, opinions he made clear through several media outlets and various Internet postings throughout the 2012 season.
In the piece, he makes it clear that he is speaking only about three specific people within the Minnesota organization --- former head coach Leslie Frazier, current special teams coach Mike Priefer, and current general manager Rick Spielman.
“It’s my belief, based on everything that happened over the course of 2012," Kluwe wrote, "that I was fired by Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn’t agree with the cause I was working for, and two cowards, Leslie Frazier and [general manager] Rick Spielman, both of whom knew I was a good punter and would remain a good punter for the foreseeable future..."
The Vikings released a response on Thursday afternoon through the team's public relations staff, with the statement saying the matter is being taken seriously but denying the claims made Kluwe.
"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," the statement read. "Chris was released strictly based on his football performance."
Priefer then issued a statement of his own to Vikings beat writers.
“I vehemently deny today’s allegations made by Chris Kluwe. 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 comments today have not only attacked my character and insulted my professionalism, but they have also impacted my family.”
Kluwe says in the piece that this behavior started in the 2012 season, his last with Minnesota, and directed most of his anger towards Preifer.
"Throughout the months of September, October, and November, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer would use homophobic language in my presence," Kluwe wrote. "He had not done so during minicamps or fall camp that year, nor had he done so during the 2011 season. 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."
The former punter also references his statistics from the 2012 season ----- his 45 yards per punt average actually beat his career average of 44.4 yards per punt --- and uses that as evidence that he was released from the team because of his social views and not because of poor performance.
"My gross average in 2012 was almost exactly my career average, and I had a career-best net average," Kluwe wrote." Statistically speaking, I am also the best punter in Vikings history, despite seven years of coaches asking me to deliberately sacrifice my own numbers to help the team, a request with which I always complied."
The full piece written by Kluwe for Deadspin can be viewed here.
Furthermore, the full response from the Vikings can be found here.