State legislators lash out at Vikings owner in open letter
ST. PAUL – In an open letter to Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf released Friday, 17 state legislators from the House and Senate implored the organization to release the entire investigation into claims made by former punter Chris Kluwe that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer made multiple homophobic remarks in 2012 and that his 2013 release was because of his outspoken support for gay marriage.
On July 18, the Vikings released a 29-page summary of a 150-page report of a six-month investigation into allegations Kluwe made in a first-person article on Deadspin.com in January.
The investigation, conducted by two Twin Cities attorneys hired by the Vikings, concluded that Kluwe’s release was solely related to his football performance and that Priefer made one discriminatory comment. The Vikings also announced a three-game suspension for Priefer, who had twice denied saying anything derogatory about homosexuals.
The report concluded that Priefer did tell Kluwe “they should round up all the gays, send them to an island and then nuke it until it glows.”
Priefer’s suspension can be reduced to two games if he completes sensitivity training, which he said he will do the first week in September.
In the letter, state legislators write: “The course of action that has been chosen in response to Mike Priefer’s now-admitted homophobic statement and his repeated lying about the matter is totally inadequate.”
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Priefer said he had “failed,” adding, “I like to set a higher standard for myself, a higher standard for my conduct. ... I didn’t just go below the bar, I went way below the bar. I made a mistake. I was wrong.”
He also said, “The biggest thing I regret is I brought a lot of bad publicity to the Minnesota Vikings and I felt like I let my family down.”
Legislators took aim at the comment, calling it “disappointing” that “his biggest regret about making the comment amounted to a public relations error and his being seen in a bad light.”
The letter compares the team’s decision to suspend Priefer to the NBA’s decision to oust Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling after a tape of his racist remarks was released to the public.
“Donald Sterling’s highly offensive bigoted remarks did not come close to calling for the destruction of an entire class of individuals. Even so, he was rightly banned by the NBA and forced to sell his basketball team,” the letter reads. “A three, possibly shortened to two, game suspension for Priefer is an underwhelming response.
“Imagine if Priefer had called for the extermination of any other group of people – communities of color or religious minorities, for example. It is a safe bet that the rush to sweep the whole subject under the rug would not be so fast.”
The letter calls Wilf’s attention to the nearly half-billion taxpayer dollars going into the Vikings’ new stadium, currently under construction and set to open for the 2016 season.
“In light of this enormous public effort, it is imperative that your organization be held accountable,” the letter reads.