MINNEAPOLIS – 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.
In January, Kluwe accused the Vikings 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 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 in Hennepin County court. Halunen wrote Monday in a text message that it will be filed today.
“Clayton said that normally, if this goes quickly, it will be about a year before we get to trial,” Kluwe said 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 season 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 past 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 causes.
Kluwe and Halunen are upset that the Vikings chose not to release a
150-page report put together by independent investigators Eric Magnuson and Chris Madel of the law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi.
The investigators interviewed 31 witnesses.
After receiving the report, the Vikings brought in the firm of Littler Mendelson to go over it, and that resulted in a
29-page summary written by Donald Prophete, a lawyer specializing in employment.
“The Vikings are trying their hardest to make sure (the full report) doesn’t come to light,” Kluwe said. “I think the public would like to see it. We’d like to be able for people to have informed discussions of this rather than what the Vikings are presenting, which is a 29-page summary by a third-person party who wasn’t even involved in the investigation.”
Kluwe said Halunen will ask for the report during discovery.
Vikings vice president of legal affairs Kevin Warren did not immediately return a message Monday.
Change.org has placed a petition on its website calling for the full report to be released, and as of Tuesday there were more than 25,000 signatures. Kluwe said he was contacted by the site over the weekend.