by Aaron Wilson
July 18, 02014
The Minnesota Vikings have suspended special teams coordinator Mike Priefer for three games for homophobic remarks in connection to accusations made by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe
If Priefer completes sensitivity training regarding diversity and sexual orientation, the Vikings will reduce his suspension to two games.
"In this instance, Coach Priefer fell short of what is expected," the Vikings said in a statement. "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."
Kluwe alleged that Priefer made homophobic remarks and that the team cut him for his support of same-sex marriage.
Kluwe said Friday that he plans to file a lawsuit.
Kluwe said he wanted Priefer suspended four to eight games and for the Vikings to donate $1 million to LGBT causes. The Vikings announced, though, that they're donating $100,000.
“We also did not find sufficient evidence to establish that members of the Vikings organization attempted to discourage Kluwe from engaging in marriage equality or equal rights activism," the Vikings stated. "The record supports the conclusion that players and management were concerned about the distraction that Kluwe’s activism was creating, as opposed to the nature and content of his activism. The record does not support the contention that members of management and the coaching staff were focused on discouraging Kluwe based on the nature of his activism."
Priefer issued an apology.
"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 that I offended with my insensitive remark," Priefer said. "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."
Vikings owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf issued a statement.
"We want to express our appreciation to former Chief Justice Magnuson and Mr. Madel of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi for their highly professional and thorough efforts to compile a complete independent investigation that would find the facts. They and their colleagues proceeded where the evidence led them and were in full control of the investigation at all times. We are also grateful to Donald Prophete and Littler Mendelson for their detailed work in reviewing the investigative information and providing conclusions on the allegations in their report. We are pleased that they concluded that there was no wrongdoing on the club’s part and that the decision to release Chris was based on his on-field performance. 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."
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun