Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe is set to file a lawsuit against the team on July 23 on his claims he was released because of his opinions on same-sex marriage and that special teams coordinator MIke Priefer's made anti-gay comments in 2012. Kluwe told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Monday he expects a "protracted legal battle."
The Minnesota Vikings are going to be in a "protracted legal battle" with former punter Chris Kluwe.
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This is what Kluwe told The St. Paul Pioneer Press' Chris Tomasson on July 21, a turn of events which he expects will end his NFL career:
"Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, whose lawyer is expected to file a lawsuit Wednesday against the team, said Monday he anticipates a 'protracted legal battle' that almost certainly will end his NFL career.
"Kluwe accused the Vikings last January in a first-person article on Deadspin.com of releasing him in May 2013 because of his outspoken views on same-sex marriage, and he charged that special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer made homophobic comments during the 2012 season.
"The Vikings launched a six-month investigation, and the findings were announced last Friday. It was concluded there was no evidence of Kluwe being released for anything other than football reasons, and Priefer was suspended for three games for making one inappropriate comment.
"Kluwe and his lawyer, Clayton Halunen, confirmed a lawsuit would be filed this week against the Vikings and Priefer was suspended for three games for making one inappropriate comment.
"Kluwe and his lawyer, Clayton Halunen, confirmed a lawsuit would be filed this week against the Vikings and Priefer in Hannapin County Court. Halunen wrote Monday in a text message that it will be filed Wednesday.
"'Clayton said that normally, if this goes quickly, it will be about a year before we get to trial,' Kluwe told The Pioneer Press on Monday. 'Then I'm sure, whatever ends up happening, there's going to be an appeal. I'm not a lawyer, but maybe it will take two, three years, four years. The Vikings have chosen to make this a long-term project.'
"Kluwe, 32, has not heard from any NFL teams since the Deadspin article came out, although he has spoken of staying in shape in hopes of returning to the league. He now expects his legal battle will put an end to any chance of that happening.
"'I'm pretty sure that will end my career,' said Kluwe, who averaged 44.4 yards per punt for the Vikings in eight seasons from 2005-12. 'I doubt there will be many teams that want me on their roster with a lawsuit against another team at the same time. But this is something that I think is important.'
"Kluwe said the suit will be for lost and future earnings, emotional distress and defamation of character. Kluwe said the suit will seek 'in excess of $10 million,' but any money he might be awarded would be donated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) causes."
Kluwe started an online petition on Change.org in order to have the Vikings release their investigation on his case to the public:
"My name is Chris Kluwe, and I was a punter for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings for eight years. During this time, I was so fortunate to have a unique platform to advocate for something that I am passionate about: advancing gay rights in the United States. I was -- and continue to be -- vocal in my support of the LGBT community, but not everyone agrees with my stance.
"And that's OK. I don't expect everyone to agree with my views. But what I do expect is respect and fairness. Sadly, a few of my superiors at the Vikings did not share that perspective.
"I believe my public support for LGBT rights cost me my job. The organization said it has investigated this claim, but it hasn't publicly released the full investigation report yet, which it had promised to do. That's why I'm asking you to sign this position, and urge the Vikings to make the entire investigation findings public.
"During the 2012 NFL season, I faced discriminatory remarks from my coach. He often made homophobic and offensive remarks that were completely disrespectful to me and the LGBT community. Other team leaders looked the other way. Despite these challenges, I focused on being a great punter for the team, and my season's performance was largely consistent with my career averages, which remain the best in Vikings' history.
"In May 2013, however, the team's management supposedly wanted to explore other options so I was released. But I don't buy that argument. I believe that I was fired from my job because of discrimination. I made a public announcement of these claims in January, and the Vikings initiated an independent investigation into my claims.
"Now that the six-month investigation is complete, the team does not want to make the complete findings public. Why? Is the organization hiding something? I believe the Vikings should be fully transparent so that the Minneapolis community, Vikings fans and the nation can hold the team accountable for what happened here.
"Please sign this petition so that we can tell the team and the world that permitting this kind of behavior is unacceptable. We won't stand for workplace discrimination and homophobia. And if we are successful together, I will donate any and all settlement gains to LGBT organizations so that they can continue gay rights awareness, education and activism."
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