Kluwe slams team
Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe alleged in an article Thursday that he lost his job because of his outspoken public support of same-sex marriage.
The Vikings issued a statement Thursday, saying Kluwe’s release in 2012 was based on his football performance, but the organization would review Kluwe’s allegations.
Kluwe, writing for Deadspin in an article titled, “I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot,” blames former coach Leslie Frazier, general manager Rick Spielman and special teams coach Mike Priefer. Kluwe also writes that he wants to make sure Priefer never gets another coaching job again.
“I honestly don’t know if my activism was the reason I got fired,” Kluwe writes. “However, I’m pretty confident it was.”
Reached by ESPN.com, Kluwe said that he didn’t approach the team, the NFL or the NFLPA about the comments at the time because doing so is “something that ends careers.”
Kluwe said in the article that Priefer criticized the punter throughout the season for his support of same-sex marriage.
“I vehemently deny today’s allegations made by Chris Kluwe,” Priefer said. “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.
“As a coach, I have always created an accepting environment for my players, including Chris, and have looked to support them both on and off the field. The comments today have not only attacked my character and insulted my professionalism, but they have also impacted my family. While my career focus is to be a great professional football coach, my number one priority has always been to be a protective husband and father to my wife and children.”
Kluwe was released by the Vikings last May. He has yet to find another job.
The Vikings released a statement Thursday after Kluwe’s accusations became a national story:
“The Minnesota Vikings were made aware of Chris Kluwe’s allegations for the first time today. We take them very seriously and will thoroughly review this matter.
“As an organization, the Vikings consistently strive to create a supportive, respectful and accepting environment for all of our players, coaches and front office personnel. We do not tolerate discrimination at any level.
“The team has long respected our players’ and associates’ individual rights, and, as Chris specifically stated, Vikings ownership supports and promotes tolerance, including on the subject of marriage equality. Because he was identified with the Vikings, Chris was asked to be respectful while expressing his opinions. Team ownership and management also repeatedly emphasized to Chris that the Vikings would not impinge on his right to express his views.
“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. Chris was released strictly based on his football performance.
“We will have further comment at the appropriate time.”
Henderson charged with another DUI
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson was arrested on New Year’s Day for suspicion of DWI, his second drunk-driving arrest since November.
“We are aware of the matter involving Erin Henderson,” the team said in a statement. “We are continuing to gather information and will have further comment at the appropriate time.”
Henderson was arrested Wednesday in Chanhassen, Minn., on suspicion of DWI. According to jail records, Henderson was booked into the Carver County Jail at 3:03 p.m. for fourth-degree DWI, third-degree DWI, second-degree DWI test refusal and violating the conditions of a limited driver’s license, WCCO-TV in Minneapolis reported.
Henderson sued the state of Minnesota in late November 2013 after being arrested for probable cause of driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance. He filed a lawsuit, stating the police didn’t have probable cause to stop him.
In another incident, according to the Minnesota State Patrol, Henderson was stopped on Aug. 31, 2013 after troopers noticed him weaving. He was warned and released.
USAToday.com’s Tom Pelissero expects Henderson to be released after the Super Bowl, once rosters become unfrozen for non-playoff teams.
Patterson in Pro Bowl
Minnesota Vikings rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson announced on his Twitter feed on Thursday night that he’s been named to the Pro Bowl, as a replacement for injured Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown.
The rookie finished with 469 receiving yards and 158 rushing yards, but had nine total TDs — four receiving, three rushing and two kick returns.
The Pro Bowl has a different format this year, as Hall-of-Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will each draft a team made up of the players named to the once-prestigious game. Other changes include no kickoffs, meaning no special teams players made the game. Patterson had the third-highest kick return average (32.4 yards) in the NFL since the merger in 1970.