The Minnesota Vikings suspended special teams coordinator Mike Priefer for three games without pay on July 18 for his alleged involvement in former punter Chris Kluwe's impending lawsuit.
The Minnesota Vikings have suspended special teams coordinator Mike Priefer.
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According to The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Master Tesfatsion and Matt Vensel, Priefer's suspension, which was issued on July 18 and is good for three game days without pay, is in line with former punter Chris Kluwe's allegations that he made anti-gay remarks two seasons ago:
"The Vikings on Friday suspended special teams coordinator Mike Priefer for three games following a six-month investigation into accusations made by former punter Chris Kluwe that Priefer made anti-gay remarks in a team setting during the 2012 season.
"Priefer, who denied the remarks earlier this year, apologized Friday in a statement. He must also attend sensitivity training, and if he does, his suspension could be reduced to two games.
"'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 I offended with my insensitive remark,' Priefer said in the statement. '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.'
"In a 29-page document summarizing the findings of the Vikings' independent investigation -- which was led by former U.S. Department of Justice attorney Chris Madel and former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson -- the national law firm Littler Mendelson, hired by the Vikings to assess the report, concluded that Priefer made an anti-gay comment to players, although there was no record of his having made any such comments.
"The showdown between Kluwe and the Vikings is not over, however. Kluwe told The Star Tribune on Friday that because the Vikings did not release the investigation's full report, he plans to file a discrimination lawsuit against the Vikings early next week seeking damages in excess of $10 million. He echoed his intention on Twitter as well, writing that 'next week is open season.'
"The investigation also provided details on Kluwe himself being insensitive in team settings. The report notes Kluwe making light of the Penn State football sex-abuse scandal, which Kluwe confirmed Friday on Twitter. He tweeted that he and 'over half the team' made Penn State 'rape' jokes in front of coaches, for a month or more.
"The investigation began after Kluwe's initial accusation in a January article he wrote on the website Deadspin.com. He said Priefer remarked before a special teams meeting: 'We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.'"
Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf issued a statement obtained by ESPN on July 18 in response to the findings of the alleged investigation:
"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."
As for the NFL, it gave props to the investigation via a statement from spokesman Greg Aiello which was obtained by ESPN's Ben Goessling. The statement reads,"We support our teams enforcing their workplace policies and commend the Wilfs for doing a thorough investigation and taking appropriate steps in response to the findings.'
Goessling also adds the Vikings "will donate $100,000 to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups."
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