A few days ago, the Minnesota Vikings toppled the proverbial apple cart by saying although the report into the Chris Kluwe investigation had been completed, they might not release the full report. It seemed like a bad move, as the general impression is that the team had something to hide.
Earlier today, negotiations for a settlement between Kluwe and the Vikings had broken down, and Kluwe would be filing suit. Kluwe wanted $1 million (which he has consistently said all along would be donated to LGBT causes/charities), and for Special Teams Coach Mike Priefer to be suspended anywhere from four to eight games. The Vikings countered with $100,000 and a suspension of three games, which could be reduced to two games if Priefer takes part in Sensitivity Training.
Earlier tonight, they released a partial synopsis of the investigation results, and as of yet, it is not known whether or not the full report will be released. You can read the partial report right here.
Halunen and Kluwe have said that the report that was released tonight is 'full of lies'.
To recap, Kluwe alleges he was released due to his outspoken support and activism for gay marriage, and that while he was speaking out about the topic while a member of the team, he was subject to a hostile workplace environment by special teams coach Mike Priefer. Priefer and the Vikings denied those claims, and said his release was based on diminishing performance.
Let's review the report, shall we? It starts out by saying that the investigation was charged to do four things:
1. Did Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer make homophobic comments during the 2012 season?
2. Did members of the Vikings' coaching staff or management improperly try to discourage Kluwe from his activism in favor of marriage equality and LGBT rights?
3. Did Kluwe's activism on behalf of marriage equality and equal rights motivate the Vikings' decision to release him from the team in May 2013?
4. Were there institutional failures in the Vikings organization that harbored or created a hostile work environment on the basis of sexual orientation?
Let's break down these points, one at a time. Oh, grab a drink. We're going to be awhile.
1. The bottom line is yes, Priefer did make homophobic remarks, and the remark about rounding up all the gays on an island and nuking it was corroborated my long snapper Colin Loeffler. However, Loeffler said that the remark was made in a joking manner. In probably the most damning indictment of Priefer, he was interviewed three times before acknowledging he did, in fact, make that comment, but insists it was made in jest.
No other homophobic/gay slur that Kluwe alleged was corroborated by any member of the Vikings or the coaching staff. Kluwe insists there were many more remarks made.
2. To the claim that Kluwe's activism caused the Vikings to release him, the bottom line is that, and I'm quoting directly from the report: "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."
There are several examples of the staff, even Mike Priefer, being supportive of Kluwe at the time of his decision to support Marriage Equality in the 2012 Minnesota election. The Vikings told him he could speak out on the issue, as long as he made it clear he was a private citizen, and not as an official representative of the team.
Even Priefer and Spielman voiced their support, although Spielman and his wife didn't appreciate the language he used while speaking out. Kluwe stated that his teammates never asked him to tone it down, as it were, but that appears to be inaccurate. Both former kicker Ryan Longwell and Loeffler spoke to him several times about the issue and how it was becoming a distraction.
3. This is where the Vikings appear to be strongest. Not only were the Vikings concerned about Kluwe's inability to punt consistently outdoors, they felt that he was a 'horrible' directional punter to the left, and were Blair Walsh not having an All Pro year in 2012, GM Rick Spielman said in the report that he would've released Kluwe and signed a punter that they tried out and later signed to a futures contract. That player appears to be TJ Conley, who was signed to a futures contract in January of 2013, although he is not named in the report.
The Vikings coaching staff was in agreement that his play had diminished and should be released, and ironically,it was Priefer that gave him the highest marks in 2012. But there were also independent NFL talent evaluators not associated with the Vikings that were asked to grade Kluwe's 2012 performance, and they are all consistent in saying his 2012 season was subpar. Those individuals were former Bears GM Jerry Angelo and two time Pro Bowl Punter Craig Hentrich. Hentrich looked at several categories and gave Kluwe an overall grade of 'C' for the 2012 season, and Angelo stated that had he been GM of the team he would have, in all likelihood, released Kluwe. And several members of the Vikings, to include Spielman and Priefer, gave him strong endorsements when other teams inquired about him after he was released.
4. The bottom line is, no there weren't. The Vikings do not lack institutional controls that would cause a breakdown of the workplace environment. The report, to quote:
We did not find any support for the contention that the Vikings lacked institutional controls with respect to its workplace environment as it relates to homophobia. To the contrary, the evidence establishes that the Wilf Family Foundation has been a strong supporter of equal rights, specifically anti-bullying, for the LGBT community. Other than the statement made by Priefer, the record is devoid of any support for the contention that the Vikings harbored a homophobic hostile work environment.
Needless to say, the Kluwe camp is incensed, and as stated, feel the sanitized report only tells the Vikings side of the story. They have stated that they will sue the team for $10+ million dollars, and they are going to filing a litany of charges.
Right now, as it stands, Mike Priefer has been suspended for three games, which can be reduced to two games with sensitivity training. He released a statement earlier tonight apologizing to pretty much everybody:
"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 in a statement issued by the team.
"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."
TL;DR: So far, Priefer has one anti-gay statement attributed to him corroborated. He's been suspended three games, maybe two. Kluwe got released because he kinda sucked, not because he was an outspoken advocate for marriage equality.
Kluwe and his attorney thinks it's a whitewash and all bullshit and they plan to sue for over $10 million.