The press conference Chris Kluwe and his lawyer Clay Halunen elected to hold at 11:00 AM today in response to word they received that the report on allegations regarding homophobic statements special teams coordinator Mike Priefer made has concluded. There are a few key takeaways from the press conference that should be hitting ledes across the Twin Cities now. Before those takeaways, a summary:

Kluwe initially publicized the allegations that Priefer said, with hostile intent that, “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows,” on December 2nd in a Deadspin piece.

He further claimed that general manager Rick Spielman and then-head coach Leslie Frazier discouraged him from speaking out on social issues and had an unproductive meeting with team player development director Les Pico about Priefer’s comments shortly before being cut in May.

Priefer has vehemently denied Kluwe’s allegations, and kicker Blair Walsh—while not denying the allegations—spoke in favor of Priefer and defended his character shortly after Kluwe’s allegations were made public.

Now a few notes from the presser:

 

1. Clay Halunen and Chris Kluwe will be pursuing legal action against the Vikings, largely as a means of forcing the report to be made public through the discovery process in the courts.

2. Halunen has not selected a venue or a time to pursue the case, but it looks like a lot of this may be contingent upon what happens with a meeting that he, Kluwe and the Vikings lawyers will meet on Thursday, July 17th to discuss the next steps.

3. Those steps will include discussion of a settlement. Halunen indicated that the Vikings and Kluwe were close to a settlement nearing $1,000,000 (all of which would be donated to LGBT advocacy organizations) and would make the report public, but the recent indications they received that the report would not be released have stalled that kind of settlement.

4. Kluwe and his lawyer have indicated they would reconsider a suit if the report becomes public.

5. Halunen spoke with authority to indicate that the report dispositively stated that Kluwe and his team were right and that “now we know” multiple witnesses have corroborated the specific allegation that Mike Priefer made the “nuke the gays” statement that has captured everyone’s attention.

6. Halunen indicated that the report is damning not just for Mike Priefer but the organization as a whole; according to him, there’s evidence on record (in the report) that connects Rick Spielman to the allegations and (this next part is my opinion) likely an organizational failure to resolve the problem in a legal way. This is a pretty big part of the case. As Andy Carlson from Purple For the Win points out, this has become a story about the Vikings management, not one about Kluwe.

7. Undisclosed until now are allegations of religious discrimination by Mike Priefer to Chris Kluwe about Kluwe’s agnosticism. Kluwe claimed that Priefer would often make derisive references to Kluwe’s agnosticism, sometimes joking and sometimes not.

8. The lawsuit sounds like it will be composed of several parts:

  • Defamation against Chris Kluwe
  • Religious discrimination
  • Tortious interference with contractual relations (there’s a good summary here)
  • Retaliatory termination

That’s an inclusive, non-exhaustive list.

9. It sounds like Halunen learned more about the investigation than you’d expect. He said the reasons for the delay didn’t just include getting witnesses to talk, but to align testimony and draw multiple statements from the same witnesses several times, including Mike Priefer three times, who according to Halunen spoke the “truth” the third time.

10. Kluwe claims there was a shift in behavior in how Priefer treated him after he became a public advocate for gay marriage, which if true would provide significant support for the claims of retaliatory termination and religious discrimination.

11. It really does not sound like the Vikings or investigators ever intended to make the report public.

I wrote about the potential legal ramifications here. That piece outlines why the venue (federal court, state court, etc) is so important and how Halunen and Kluwe can pursue those claims.

Interestingly enough, after the press conference concluded I received word that Priefer feels confident he’ll maintain his employment.

99 COMMENTS

  1. If Priefer didn’t say these things, it is pretty much a no win situation for the Vikings. If the report says Priefer didn’t say those things and the Vikings concluded there was nothing going on, whether the Vikings release the report or not, Kluwe will sue. Kluwe has always been planning to sue, even if the Vikings came out and said Priefer was an evil SOB and fired him. Kluwe has always been an attention whore, and regardless of the outcome, he is setting himself up to be an LGBT political activist, which is a profitable business to be in. This is all about Kluwe.

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  2. I agree Rick. If Kluwe was so outraged by these comments, why didn’t he quit the team the second the comments were made? If not quit the team, why didn’t be bring it out publicly after the comments were made. Kluwe’s “problem” began when he was released from the team, and no other NFL team was interested in him.

    I don’t doubt Priefer made these comments. I don’t doubt Kluwe sincerely wants to be an LGBT activist. I do question his timing. Kluwe waited until he knew he couldn’t earn another nickle from the NFL, to bring this public.

    I have a gay brother, and I agree with Kluwe’s political views. That being said, Good Riddance to that scum bag.

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    • “If Kluwe was so outraged by these comments, why didn’t he quit the team the second the comments were made? If not quit the team, why didn’t be bring it out publicly after the comments were made. Kluwe’s “problem” began when he was released from the team, and no other NFL team was interested in him.”

      Kluwe’s lawsuit is about wrongful termination. So it only became a problem when he got released.

      It’s not (only) about him being offended.

      Kluwe is arguing that Priefer’s comments are an indication that he (and by extension, the Vikings organization) was not tolerant of Kluwe’s social activism and political views.

      In the Deadspin article, Kluwe alleges that performance evaluations, in games and in practices, were skewed unfairly against him to create a pretext of poor performance that would justify releasing him.

      His point is that Priefer (and Frazier for sure from the Deadspin article, and possibly Spielman from the lawyer’s comments today) disliked his politics (and religion etc etc). Priefer’s comments (which are reportedly more than a single comment about nuking gays, today are reported to include disparaging him for being an agnostic) are a symptom of that disagreement.

      Because of that disagreement, Kluwe is alleging that Priefer (at least, and possibly higher levels of the staff as well) cooked up a reason to release him for performance reasons that Kluwe alleges were not justified.

      That would be wrongful termination. And there’d be nothing to go to the media with when Priefer made the comments themselves.

      Because it’s not only about what Priefer said, it’s about him using his power as a coach to end the employment of a player for non-performance-related reasons, because of a political/social/religious disagreement. The homophobic comments were a symptom of that disagreement, but it’s the abuse of power, if proven in court, that’s the main problem.

      So it looks like it will become a question of what Spielman knew, and when, and what he did about it.

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  3. He reported the incident, when it happened, to every level of management: Head Coach, Executive Director of Player Development and General Manger.

    This is about the organization.

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    • I never doubted he didn’t report it to management. However, by his own admission, everyone was quick to dismiss it, or ignore it altogether. Which is again why I question why he didn’t quit the team or go public a lot earlier. Why wait until your career is over to make a stance?

      I am not defending the Vikings, nor am I saying Kluwe is lying. Again, I question his timing and underlying agenda.

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      • So your reasoning is – the intolerant person who starts verbally bashing (at work!) anyone who he deems as less than human – You know the wrong: color, gender, orientation religion, too short, too heavy… That guy should stay and spread the word. Anyone who takes offense to the nuke those people hate crap being spewed at work should quit instead of stepping forward to stop it. That logic rewards hate and punishes people who step up.

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        • Not at all. My reasoning is, make it public, right then, right away. If he made it public then, I’d take his claims a lot more seriously. Again……timing.

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          • Think about it his way: if you go public immediately, you upset the entire season (*during* the season). You also don’t have time to prepare. What does that mean? Well, you need to make sure you want to go forward this, talk to all the players it’s going call out (so people don’t get unnecessarily dragged into this, at least without a heads-up, which is how you activist while also not being a total asshole), nevermind getting your legal plan sorted before you make a move. Waiting, from his perspective, was definitely the best course of action if you want to be right and win.

            But Kluwe didn’t do just this, as the above evidence indicates. He took his complaint to the organization, which is the more diplomatic route. He didn’t absolutely surprise the organization during the middle of the season with a public post about the team’s inner workings, which would have been a chaotic shit show. He did them a favor. He basically said, “Hey guys, this happened and it’s wrong, but I’m not going to yell about it during the most important part of the year.” He waited till things calmed down and he had a plan, gave the Vikings a chance to sort it out and they did not, and was then forced to go public in order to get anything done. His timing was generous.

            TL;DR: wouldn’t y’all be calling him even more of an attention-whore if he had raised this issue publicly during the season? The answer is yes.

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      • Actually the timing question is super interesting – had Kluwe decided to write up the Deadspin article at any other time, it would have been during the season or during workouts. He chose the least football-specific time to release his report so as not to distract his teammates during a season of play.

        He’s made this argument. You don’t have to believe it, but I would start with refuting it.

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        • If he had made everything a big public mess at the end of the season before they drafted Locke maybe he could have snuck another year on the team while they “investigated”.

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        • He wrote the Deadspin article only when it became obvious to him that he wasn’t going to get another job in the NFL again; and he has admitted as much. Moreover, they weren’t his teammates anymore once the Vikings cut him. If he truly is just that magnanimous as to chose “the least football-specific time” to write an article in Deadspin — versus, say, bringing his allegation directly to the team — so as not to distract his ex-teammates, then why isn’t he making that same courtesy now with training camp right around the corner? Doesn’t he think that in announcing how he’s going to sue the team just before camp begins no reporters will be seeking out these beloved ex-teammates of his looking for comments and distracting them from doing their jobs?

          That certainly seems a big, fat contradiction with a pretty bow attached.

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          • You realize he did go to the team, right? That’s the biggest part of this whole suit, that he’s alleging that the team papered over his concerns and mismanaged the entire ordeal.

            And he was going to sue in May (http://vikingsterritory.com/2014/general-news/2014-minnesota-vikings-chris-kluwe-to-sue-if-investigation-not-complete-by-may-6th), but the Vikings stayed the suit by extending the investigation. The investigation was supposed to conclude months ago in March, but there were complications, like witnesses who refused to give testimony.

            He is required by law to bring the suit in extremely close to the date of the report’s release or the lawsuit will get thrown out per the MHRA.

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            • Arif, what exactly did Kluwe bring to the team, and when? He himself admitted that he didn’t talk to management, Human Resources, or anyone else but Loeffler and Walsh. Kluwe claims that he had one “unproductive” conversation with Les Pico (regarding the one specific comment that Priefer eventually admitted to making.) According to to the awful, biased, probably untrue summary of the investigative report that the Vikings lawyers released, Pico claims that Kluwe was adamant that Pico keep the entire conversation confidential and “not disclose any part of it to anyone in the Vikings organization.”

              Now, as you’ve been writing about this case, you’ve poured over the few known facts with great detail. Perhaps you’ve read or heard additional interviews with Kluwe that I am unaware of. Does Chris Kluwe claim that he reported any sort of wrongdoing by Priefer to Human Resources or Vikings management while he still played for the team (or at any time after leaving the team up until January of this year?) His original deadspin article didn’t even mention religious discrimination, did it? I realize the team’s summary of the investigation didn’t reference it, but it seems to be a new accusation that he only began making in recent months.

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              • According to the Vikings lawyers’ article Kluwe spoke to Les Pico on May 2nd, a few days after the draft and a few days before he was released.

                From the PDF:

                –“Pico told investigators that after meeting with Kluwe and Loeffler on May 2, 2013, he felt he was “in a bind” regarding what to do next. On the one hand, Pico said he wanted to respect Kluwe’s confidentiality. But on the other hand, Pico felt he had to notify someone about the allegedly “hostile work environment.” Pico said he tried to balance these interests by informing Spielman and Warren that there was a problem between Kluwe and Priefer, but not divulging anything specific about what Kluwe alleged. Pico said he hoped that although he did not report any specifics, that Spielman and Warren would investigate the issue further. At certain points in his second interview, Pico said that he told Spielman and Warren about “derogatory statements between Priefer and Kluwe.”

                “The independent investigation found no written or verbal communication or written document—whether email, memorandum, calendar appointment, text message, voicemail, etc.—wherein Pico raised any issue regarding Kluwe to anyone.” —

                It’s an odd account. Pico’s state of mind is discussed at some length, with several quotes in his own words. The description suggests that he changed or extended his testimony at his second appearance (“at certain points in his second interview, Pico said…”), including potentially relevant details he had apparently not covered the first time.

                Even so, the report fails to make a clear declarative statement that Pico told Spielman anything, even though Pico apparently testified that he did, at least in vague terms. Did Spielman deny that? Or any recollection of it? That’s not included. The fact that there is no voicemail or calendar appointment etc is not necessarily relevant if this was a simple conversation.

                Nor does the report mention Pico’s recollection of what, if anything, Spielman said he was going to do after Pico told him about the “derogatory statements” (note the plural).

                This is around the point where it’s again useful to remember that this report is primarily is the Vikings lawyers’ evaluation of the evidence collected in the investigation, it’s not a summary of the conclusions of the independent investigators themselves.

                Which would be one reason why you could have such an unusually detailed (in terms of Pico’s state of mind) and yet vague (in terms of the outcome of any conversation he had with Spielman) account, without there being any negative conclusions drawn about the conduct of the team.

                And as for Kluwe’s allegation of religious discrimination, the report basically doesn’t quote him at all (though his reluctant and weaselly acknowledgement that he took part in that offensive “joke” about the Sandusky situation is included verbatim in a footnote). The article takes the Deadspin article as the source of its accusations, anything else that Kluwe might have alleged during his testimony in front of the investigators is not included.

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                • Those are good points, KRAUSER: The specific details of what Pico told Spielman are going to be very important to this case. If the summary we’ve seen ends up being relatively accurate, I don’t think it bodes especially well for Kluwe’s case (seeing as how his requests limited what Pico could do or say.) I still find it incredibly odd and concerning that Kluwe never spoke to anyone in HR…shouldn’t that have been the first place he went?

                  I’m also interested to find out whether Kluwe talked to *anyone* about his religious discrimination/homophobic culture concerns. I haven’t seen anything from Kluwe indicating that he did, as most of his specific claims (and the Vikings response) has centered around Priefers “nuke the gays” comment. If Kluwe claims to have mentioned those concerns to someone, I’d love to know. If there’s an interview that I missed, feel free to post a link. It’s hard to keep track of all of the specific details given the length of the investigation and the various mediums through which Kluwe communicates. If there was a systemic failure on the part of the Vikings organization, they can and should be held liable. However, if Kluwe didn’t voice his concerns, and no one else can corroborate his claims (apart from Priefer’s one homophobic comment), it’s going to be an uphill battle. I guess we’ll see what comes out during the discovery process.

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                  • I would guess all that information is in the full report, which has been suppressed by the team. So if you don’t have the answers to your questions, it might not be Kluwe’s fault, entirely.

                    Kluwe again this week mentioned text messages from Blair Walsh confirming that Priefer made multiple homophobic statements, not just the one. He could be misrepresenting that somehow, but it’s an oddly specific claim if there’s nothing behind it.

                    We don’t know what the texts said, because they weren’t in the Vikings report, or what Kluwe purports they show, because that’s not in the report. We do know the Vikings lawyers don’t consider the texts to be “support in the record”, but not why. It seems from multiple reports that the independent investigators reached conclusions that were unfavourable to Priefer and the team, so presumably there is some additional evidence left to be revealed that didn’t make it into the team’s report.

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                    • With respect to religious discrimination, there might not be much in the investigators’ report if they didn’t investigate that particular claim. It is curious, and may be a hit to Kluwe’s credibility, that he did not request that they investigate religious discrimination in their investigation (if he didn’t – none of us really know the facts other than what gets leaked out, and even that is usually biased to one side or the other), although he could take the position that it was all part of the same course of conduct, I suppose.

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    • Kluwe reported it after, long after the fact. It was OK by him until he was cut. If Peifer said it that’s wrong IMO but there’s a lot of wrong in the NFL and with guys like Kluwe who are charlatans.

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    • No. This is not about the organization however much Kluwe wants it to be. There is no indication or claim that the organization endorsed, defended, agreed with homophobic comments. This is a football team with many moving parts; some more integral than others. Most were preoccupied with keeping their jobs. Satisfying Kluwe’s need for attention was not their primary concern. Let’s leave social engineering to teachers and politicians.

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  4. I disagree with is the contention that being an LGBT political activist is profitable. It may be “high profile,” and it may be “admirable” but how is it profitable? It’s charity work… Even if there is profit in it, it’s certainly not as profitable as being an NFL starter. Maybe that’s why he stuck with his day job.

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  5. Kluwe is going to keep this going forever. He is addicted to media attention. There are people
    who know when its over, move on and reinvent themselves. The ones who don’t (like Kluwe) usually
    come to a bad end. He seems headed toward a reality TV show where he hunts bigfoot with Jesse
    Ventura.
    Even if he wins in this, he loses. Its kind of sad.

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  6. “Nuke the Unborn Gay Whales”
    Anybody remember that bumper sticker?
    It was a joke Kluwe, you dumbass.

    Should have just concentrated on kicking a football, then you wouldn’t have to be trying to make a living by being a scumbag attention whore.

    And just to head off any bashing me for being a bigot, I too have a Gay relative that I love dearly. (Coincidently, he lives on an Island)

    Man! Will training camp get here already!

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    • Wow! 7 Thumbs down.
      A lot of “Activists” here apparently.

      No sense of humor today Boys?

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      • Yeah, when I was a kid we used to call each other all kinds of gay slurs. But I’m not a kid anymore, and now that it is not so okay to mistreat gay people, I’m pretty much on board with not making light of their right to get through life without being crapped on. I guess that makes me an “Activist”.

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      • Yup, any mention of Kluwe brings out the non-football fan that has no intention of ever visiting the website again… unless, that is, there’s another mention of Kluwe.

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    • I think this officially means that, “I have a gay relative!” is the new, “But I have a black friend!”

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      • Oh for christs sakes. I was kidding about the Gay relative just to get the “Lives on an island” joke in.
        I keep forgetting how hard it is for some people to recognize humor. . .

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  7. Kluwe’s timing with these things has been very intentional and that is one of the reasons I don’t support him. It is very hard for me to take him seriously as the political activist he claims to be when he is dragging the entire Vikings organization, which includes former teammates of his and all of us fans, through the mud because he wants to get back at his position coach (and don’t kid yourself, that is his main target, I get that hierarchy is responsible as well but Priefer has always been his target). This whole thing about a promise to make the report public is ridiculous. Whenever a settlement is offered the first thing the wrongdoer is going to ask for is to sweep the whole thing under the rug. What did Kluwe and his attorney expect? Did they want Zygi Wilf to read the whole thing at a public execution for Mike Priefer with Kluwe riding a giant sparkling pony on a platform above everyone else? Sounds like the investigation has indicated Kluwe was right about what Priefer said, so of course the team is going to try and find least embarrassing way to handle it. It’s just the latest example of Kluwe not instantly getting what he wanted and using his former position as an NFL player to get people to give him a public spotlight to complain about it. I said it in the previous post, but shame on the Vikings for not making sure they were the ones to release the first bit of information on this. They should have known they needed to strike first with a media comment. It’s not like they don’t know what kind of guy they are dealing with here. Anything that report showed Kluwe was correct about should have been reported to the national media on July 3rd before the holiday or last Friday with the Lebron mania. They had to know Kluwe would go public and put his spin on it.

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    • While there are other posts I find way more off-kilter, I’m responding to yours because I’ve read more than a few of your posts, and you struck me as a pretty pragmatic guy. This post strikes me as anything but.

      Parsing it apart:

      “Kluwe’s timing with these things has been very intentional and that is one of the reasons I don’t support him. It is very hard for me to take him seriously as the political activist he claims to be…”

      Assuming the goal of a political activist is to draw as much attention to an issue as possible, you don’t support him because he drew as much attention to an issue as possible? I want to be clear here that this is just a guess: I’m guessing were the issue something you agreed with, you would have no problem with his methodology.

      “when he is dragging the entire Vikings organization, which includes former teammates of his and all of us fans, through the mud…”

      How is he dragging fans through the mud? Have you been summoned? Show me on this doll where Kluwe touched you (that last one was a joke, to lighten the mood you know!). You, like me are but a fan of the team. Unless you work at Winter Park, you have no skin in the game beyond mere spectator. An issue of this magnitude transcends your personal needs as a spectator.

      “…because he wants to get back at his position coach (and don’t kid yourself, that is his main target, I get that hierarchy is responsible as well but Priefer has always been his target).”

      Uhh, the guy who Kluwe thinks was the catalyst to him being fired, and the guy who literally said he wants to nuke gays might be his focus point? I can’t figure out how I’m supposed to pretend that’s somehow an offensive notion.

      “Did they want Zygi Wilf to read the whole thing at a public execution for Mike Priefer with Kluwe riding a giant sparkling pony on a platform above everyone else?”

      Releasing a report is equivalent to the Wilf sparkle pony? Hyperbole much?

      “Sounds like the investigation has indicated Kluwe was right about what Priefer said, so of course the team is going to try and find least embarrassing way to handle it.”

      By not releasing it, you are drawing attention to it, and I can almost guarantee it will eventually be released to a whole lot more attention than it would have been if they’d just released it immediately and taken their licks. As per usual, it’s not so much the crime, as the cover up.

      “I said it in the previous post, but shame on the Vikings for not making sure they were the ones to release the first bit of information on this. They should have known they needed to strike first with a media comment.”

      That, I absolutely agree with.

      On another note, this whole agnostic thing is new news to me. Speaking as an unapologetic agnostic, I can assure you that if I thought that personal view played ANY role in me being fired, no matter the degree, I’d be shrieking from the balconies, and would not give a fat rat’s ass what the masses thought about said shrieks.

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  8. There seems to be great willingness to take statements made by Kluwe and his lawyer as unquestioned fact. I think it is worth remembering that Kluwe’s claims begin with the idea that he was cut because of his advocacy. The fact that Longwell was similarly cut the year before, the Raiders signing and then cutting Kluwe, and his inability to catch on with any other team all make that idea rather hard to accept. It also sounds as if it may be difficult for Kluwe to show that he, as a heterosexual, was the victim of a work place environment hostile to gays, just as not every employee would be able to sue if a manager sexually harrassed one worker. It’s possible that Priefer’s alleged comments were repugnant without making them illegal.

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    • At this point I tend to believe that Preifer did make some homophobic remarks and some higher ups in the organization knew about it. If the report did not come to that conclusion, I really don’t see why they wouldn’t release it. I do question the context of those remarks, especially considering some of the inflammatory things Kluwe has put out there on deadspin for the world to see, but I don’t think that will matter much. Some things just can’t be said in the workplace and that is likely what the Vikings are working through right now. The rest of it is crap. Kluwe’s inability to admit that his production compared to his salary were not a justifiable reason to release him is another one of the reasons I simply have no time for this guy anymore.

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    • Kluwe’s threatening to sue the team for wrongful termination, Priefer’s not facing a criminal trial for hateful or offensive speech.

      Wrongful termination just means he didn’t deserve to be released. There’s no need for Kluwe to prove he would’ve been hired elsewhere. There are only 32 NFL punting jobs in the world, and only a couple of them come open every year.

      The Vikings claim they released him for poor performance. They’ll have to be able to prove that.

      If they can’t, or if Kluwe can successfully argue that their negative evaluation of him was unfair, the fact that his position coach was repeatedly making disparaging remarks about his political/social views (and even his religion), and that his head coach (apparently) backed that up when Kluwe went to discuss the situation with him, that will be strong circumstantial evidence of retaliatory dismissal.

      The lawsuit isn’t saying that Priefer’s comments are illegal, it’s saying that they were an indication that he couldn’t tolerate working with Kluwe because of his views and therefore came up with a pretext (the unfair performance evaluations) to get rid of him. If that’s what happened, it’s wrongful termination.

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      • No they don’t have to prove that Kluwe was released for poor performance. He was an at-will employee. Employers are not required to hire or pay employees based on some kind of ranking.

        Further, Kluwe can’t pursue a discrimination claim, because a) there is no legal “protected class” (there is an on-going attempt to have one created via appellate court rulings, but it is a challenge for several reasons) and b) even if there were, he is not a member. He lacks standing.

        That’s why Kluwe made vague comments about “religious discrimination”, which is a very weak claim, but likely his strongest possibility. But the entire regime of organized professional sports would join the entire NFL against Kluwe in any legal case challenging his release, and the burden of proof is on him to show why 5 teams declined.

        His best possibility was to beat the Vikings in the papers and persuade them. That didn’t work, and now everything else that comes out will be a derogation of Kluwe, rather than being to his benefit.

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        • Just wanted to clear up at least a little of the legal misinformation/misunderstandings in your post. First, Kluwe was not an at-will employee. He was under contract and was a member of the players’ association. His contract and the CBA controlled the conditions of his employment/release, not the doctrine of at-will employment (although the way NFL contracts work, it can sort of look like it). Second, sexual orientation is a protected class under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. I’m not sure what Kluwe’s claim in this regard will ultimately be, but I’m guessing it will be a claim of retaliatory discharge, either because of his activism or in retaliation for his having complained about Priefer. Under either circumstance, Kluwe need not be a member of the protected class. I guess we’ll find out soon enough what shape this will take, and I think most of us will wait and see and make appropriate judgments about information as it comes out rather than to claim to know what will happen.

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      • KRAUSER: I may be misunderstanding your post, but could you please clarify something for me? Are you saying that if an employee accuses their employer of wrongdoing, the burden of proof is on the employer? That is to say, they are guilty until proven innocent? If an employee claims that they were terminated due to their political/religious views, the burden of proof is on them, is it not?

        I agree that the Vikings will be asked to provide the rationale behind their decision to release Chris Kluwe, but based on the specific details of the investigative report that have already been released (particularly the statistical decline in Kluwe’s performance and the independent evaluation of Kluwe’s 2012 performance by Jerry Angelo and Craig Hentrich), it doesn’t seem that they will have much trouble doing that. They need not prove that Kluwe was in decline (though he was), only that his performance as a below average punter did not justify his above-average salary or (arguably) the veteran minimum salary that they would have been forced to pay him had he not been under contract at all.

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        • IANAL, but the presumption of innocence is a part of criminal cases, not civil, which depend on a “balance of probabilities” or “burden of proof” standard, as far as I know.

          The Vikings will be able to make a case that Kluwe wasn’t a very good punter. He will counter that by showing that 2012 was by some measures (net average) his best year, and was overall in keeping with his performance in prior years. The statistical picture of Kluwe’s “decline” in the Vikings article is not impressive to me, for instance pointing out that he had a career low in punts downed inside the 20 without mentioning that he only had 2 touchbacks all year, a career best and one of the best ratios (inside 20 : TB) in the league. Even one of the writers on the team-friendly PFT site has written an article pointing out the limitations of that analysis. But they can certainly make a case.

          Against that, Kluwe will make a case that there was a broader pattern of harassment etc including multiple comments from Priefer. Though the Vikings article has been taken as fair and comprehensive by most everyone over the past few days, if you read it carefully you can see that their presentation of the evidence, or lack thereof, for Kluwe’s accusations depends on the Vikings lawyers’ evaluation of the evidence, and excludes the conclusions of the independent investigators themselves. The article says “there is no evidence”, and not “the independent investigators concluded that there is no evidence”, which is a big difference, and roughly the difference between an independent investigation and a “dependent” one.

          So anyway, Kluwe will get a chance to make his case. If he does, it would be reasonable for the court to believe that Priefer was biased against him to the point that his evaluations would be unfair. And that would allow Kluwe to argue that the motivating factor that led to his release was that bias, not just his performance otherwise.

          I’m not saying it would be a winning argument, but it’s a reasonable one.

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          • Ronald Coase once said “If you torture the data long enough, it will confess.” Kluwe can argue that he hadn’t declined all that much, and it’s a legitimate argument (as is the argument that he had still declined.) I think that’s where the independent analysis by Jerry Angelo and Craig Hentrich. Angelo’s claim that, “in all likelihood”, he would have released Kluwe if he’d been the GM could be especially damaging, as could Hentrich’s “C” grade that he gave Kluwe’s performance. It isn’t difficult to look at the salary of all 32 NFL punters and conclude that Kluwe’s cap number was far higher than his performance justified. NFL players are not technically “at will” employees, but the terms of the collective bargaining agreement essentially mean that they operate as such. Teams can and do cut players because they want a cheaper option, or because they are in decline, or because they feel like it. In Kluwe’s case, he was a below average punter getting above average pay. Given his years of service, even the veteran minimum salary would have been getting a little steep for what he offered.

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            • There’s also the quote about “lies, damn lies and statistics.” If decisions were all about numbers, they still wouldn’t necessarily be clear. When you add the human dimension, they become even more difficult to assess. That is why these types of cases are, at the same time, so difficult to prove and so risky for an employer. The Vikings have a strong case on the numbers. And does anyone think Kluwe’s motivations are strictly about gay rights at this point? But there are risky aspects to this for the Vikings, no doubt. It’s too bad Priefer didn’t admit the statement right away, explain its context, apologize and take sensitivity training. We’d be talking about training camp right now instead of this mess.

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            • They would be better off saying they believed they could get better or same punting stats from a cheaper option than saying he declined. At least it would be easier to prove that statistically than he had this great decline.

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              • The Vikings have maintained that Kluwe’s release was performance related. That is a pretty general statement that they may clarify later (ie his performance didn’t match hos salary.) His decline, while relevant, probably isn’t the only explanation the Vikings will offer. Also, we should remember that the question is not “did Kluwe’s performance justify his release but rather “did the Vikings believe his performance justified his release.” That’s why Jerry Angelo’s independent assessment is important. His opinion, coupled with the Vikings supposed evidence that they were discussing moving on from Kluwe well before he became a vocal activist, significantly undermines the claim that he was cut because of his views (views that the Wilf’s share.)

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                • It does not matter if Zygi shares the view or not though. From what Kluwe alleges those within the organization do not. And in order for them to have wanted him gone before his activism started they would have wanted to cut him before the season had started. I think Kluwe has a hard case to win if that is even really his goal.

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  9. I saw this story a few years back on Kluwee and Priefer . The peice seemed to be saying what buddies they were and how they continually kind of smack talked each other about each others diiferent values..Is it really anything more than that? Not even any gay people involved!! That’s why I dislike Kluwee, not because of a dislike for gay people, but for his approach. He thinks he’s the John Lennon of the the NFL, apparently. And what about people telling him to tone it down. Why is that any different than Zimmer asking Manziel about the celebity man guy thing? I wo nder how this all ends. It’s really stupid.

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  10. You do all know what ad hominem means, right?

    Attacking Kluwe doesn’t dispel what happened from the Coach up to the GM. If he had brought it up sooner, it might have protected his career if there was any factor involved with his activism. I honestly think he did it for the team as well as the protocol of a player with a coach.

    Do you think every time a gay person is treated with discrimination they go to the HR department? Often, sure. But every time? How about African americans? do they call the police every time they get pulled over for no reason? Should he have filed a complaint with HR and bypassed the entire management/coaching structure the way you and I should?

    Attacking Kluwe for not being perfect can not deflect attention away from what happened and what steps need to be taken. Making a big stink of it will be a medium for change in the way all professional teams will react. This is a necessary evil.

    I don’t have a gay family member unlike everyone else here.

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    • Have you read any of the offensive, abusive comments Kluwe has written about those who disagree with him? Have you ever read the intolerance he has for those he finds intellectually inferior? He is at least as offensive as the accusations made against Priefer. No, this is not a necessary evil. A bigoted coach (probably) has an unacceptable OPINION about gays. He wasn’t employed for his opinions. If he sheds a bad light on the organization, cut him loose. Kluwe was let go for performance vs salary. Priefer is just an opportunity to further Kluwe’s waning chances to remain in the public eye.

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      • Ohhhhhhh Fran, ya kill me buddy.

        I know you and I don’t see eye to eye on the political spectrum, but one thing I’m certain about is that you and I could have a few beers, actually talk politics, and still get along. You’re a funny guy, old friend.

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  11. You can defend the timing of the Deadspin article all you want, but it doesn’t address the underlying problem that I have with Kluwe’s supposed concern for injustice: Why did he wait until after he was no longer on the team AND after he had exhausted his incredibly short list of potential suitors before donning his red cape and flying in to fight the powers of bigotry and injustice? Would we still be talking about Rosa Parks if she’d waited a couple years before standing up and saying “Hey, remember that time the bus driver told me to give up my seat? Well, I went along with it at the time, but NOW I’m taking a stand”? Of course not. She’s a hero because she did the right thing right away, and at significant personal cost. Kluwe waited until his career was completely over before jumping back into his beloved limelight with dramatic accusations against his former employer.

    In his Deadspin article, he mentioned that by speaking up he was likely ending his football career. I think it’s obvious that his subpar performance had already ended his football career. He wouldn’t have launched this crusade unless he felt confident that it would no longer cost him anything. Think about it: He’s a former NFL player but a current media darling. Does this crusade against supposed bigotry hurt his future career as a writer/pundit/social commentator? Hardly. He has a martyr complex, and people who share his views can’t get enough of his “one man vs the world” act. I am repulsed by Priefers alleged comments, but that doesn’t mean I’m not equally put-off by Kluwes endless barrage of self-aggrandizing behavior. (Oh, was his press conference held on the same day as MLB’s All Star game that’s being held here in MN? I hadn’t even noticed. I’m sure it was a coincidence.)

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    • “Why did he wait until after he was no longer on the team AND after he had exhausted his incredibly short list of potential suitors before donning his red cape and flying in to fight the powers of bigotry and injustice?”

      Because he’s filing suit for wrongful termination, not for Mike Priefer is a bad person or Mike Priefer hurt my feelings.

      Until he was released, he had no reason to believe Priefer’s opinion of his politics/etc had any bearing on his career.

      But he was released, and the reason given in the official team statement was that:

      “Chris was released strictly based on his football performance.”

      And yes Kluwe says his performance was being unfairly downgraded by Priefer. From the Deadspin article:

      “I was frequently marked for negative scores by Mike Priefer on our “Production Point” sheet for punts that earlier had been marked positive, despite the numbers being almost exactly the same in terms of hangtime and distance. I do not know if these “Production Point” sheets were ever shown to our general manager or head coach, nor do I know if they were used to evaluate my job performance, though I suspect they were.”

      The Vikings will have to show that they had cause to release him. If the evidence for his poor performance is those “production point” evaluations, and if Kluwe can show that Priefer took numbers (distance, hangtime) that had previously been graded positively and graded them negatively instead, he’ll have a very strong case that his performance was being unfairly downgraded by someone with a documented history of hostility toward him for his personal views.

      And that would be wrongful grounds for dismissal. And Kluwe would win the case, easily.

      The only question would be if Frazier and/or Spielman were aware of Priefer cooking the books to come up with a pretext to get rid of Kluwe.

      Based on the fact that they drafted Locke, it seems likely to me that they did.

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      • This is an example of how Kluwe has rewritten history to suit himself.

        He was playing badly in 2012 and playing hurt with a torn meniscus. They brought punters in
        for workouts in the fall of 2012 during the season. At the end of the season, he went in
        for surgery and they signed a new punter to a development contract. Then they drafted a punter.

        Its also worth remembering that a year before Ryan Longwell was pushed out as well for likely
        most of the same reasons (expensive, old, in decline).

        What really makes sense here? That a special teams coach somehow sabotaged the punting
        game of an NFL team to make a ‘great” punter look bad. Or that you had a team looking to
        get rid of older players in favor of younger less expensive ones to fix a top-heavy salary structure
        created by the contracts of Peterson and Allen.

        Jared Allen has a better case for wrongful termination than Kluwe does. In his own mind its
        otherwise, but Kluwe just wasn’t that important.

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        • “What really makes sense here? That a special teams coach somehow sabotaged the punting
          game of an NFL team to make a ‘great” punter look bad.”

          It would be an implausible story, if the coach didn’t have a (apparently now confirmed by witnesses and admitted by Priefer himself) history of making negative comments about Kluwe’s politics, social activism and even religion in front of witnesses, in the workplace.

          And Kluwe isn’t saying the punting game was sabotaged, he’s saying that his evaluations went from positive to negative (on the “performance points” he mentions in the Deadspin article) despite no drop off in his actual performance (distance, hangtime).

          Given that his evaluator had a track record of criticizing Kluwe for non-football reasons, it’s fair to wonder whether the decision to release him for poor performance was based on a biased evaluation.

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      • This is the National Football League, you don’t automatically keep your job because you are doing about as good as you have been in the past…especially when that level puts you in about the middle of the league statistically. Teams cut guys strictly to get under the salary cap even if their performance hasn’t slipped, so I really don’t know why the Vikings would have to provide a bunch of statistical evidence as to why they cut this guy. They might want to focus on the fact that Jeff Locke had the added ability to kick off (which he did last year when Blair had a bad hammy), because going with the “we drafted a guy who is younger and cheaper,” argument could open up a whole different can of worms in regards to age discrimination. I don’t want to see this snoball to the point that every player over the age of 30 that gets cut has a precedence to sue the team they had been playing for. Locke is also a lefty…but then I guess Kluwe’s crew would say the Vikes are prejudiced to right handed people.

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  12. I’m not buying Kluwe’s story, just ain’t. Boatload of crap. You wait over a year? Nah….

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  13. Some of us know what “ad hominem” means. Do you know what “ad nasueum” means?

    Its listening to Kluwe who talks like he was greatest football player ever rather than a old punter with a
    big salary and low numbers on a team that is cleaning house. If he were gay or if somehow something
    bad had done to him, maybe this would be worth talking about. But he isn’t gay. Being in love with
    yourself and the sound of your own voice just doesn’t qualify.

    Even if he is absolutely right about Priefer, he is still wrong. He is wrong because he is pointing fingers
    at all sorts of other people who are not Priefer and did him no harm. He is wrong because the point
    of lawsuits is to compensate people who suffered damages. He is fighting a lawsuit so that he can
    make a charitable donation with whatever he gets from it.

    As far as Priefer goes, whatever he did or did not do, he has been pubically humiliated for it and will
    have to live with that for the rest of his life. Is that not enough? Is it really going to make Kluwe
    feel better if the guy loses his job and is rendered unemployable? What is enough punishment?
    Isn’t dragging his name through the national media for months sufficient?

    Kluwe needs to get on with his life. Football is over. He needs to figure out if he wants to be an adult
    or stay on the path to becoming a 40 year old couch potato playing video games all day while playing
    in a rich guy vanity band at night. If he believes in social justice and his causes, he (and his money)
    should be working in that area.

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  14. Dr. Cagelove, you seem like you could use a refresher on what ad hominem means. I highly recommend this helpful explanation as a good starting point: http://laurencetennant.com/bonds/adhominem.html

    (For those who don’t want to check out the link, let it suffice to say that no one on this page has resorted to argumentum ad hominem yet, nor have there been many opportunities to do so, at least not in regards to Chris Kluwe).

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    • I did some regoogling.

      Would you say in some instances there is an ad hominem cirumcumstantial? Attacking his motives for the timing of his deadspin article?

      Or would most of the character attacks at Chris be considered verbal abuse? Red Herrings meant to distract people from the actual allegations?

      The theme here and in many places around the web is that Chris is an egomaniac, attention whore, narcissist, butthurt, a fake champion for LGBT for his own personal ego etc… Those things in and of themselves are verbal abuse and irrelevant to the topic at hand. If people think that those are his motives then it is in fact ad hominem circumstantial. Thank you for the link.

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      • Actually, because that vast majority of Kluwe’s claims rely on his own testimony (and at this point, nothing else), he is essentially using an appeal to authority (he being the authority). As a result, bringing to light negative facts concerning his character, his honesty, his ability to accurately recollect information, or his expertise might be considered a form of ad hominem, but they do not constitute an ad hominem fallacy, as they are incredibly relevant to the argument being presented. So, it might be more accurate to say that no one here is guilty of an ad hominem fallacy (which is typically what is meant when someone accuses their opponent of “ad hominem”). Now, are some of the accusations against Kluwe (ie “Kluwe is a pee-pants”) a red herring? Absolutely. That is, unless they are relevant to the claims he’s making and/or the reliability and accuracy of his testimony.

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  15. Krauser, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize Mike Priefer was the man behind the curtain at Pro Football Focus. As I recall, they didn’t have a particularly favorable view of his performance (certainly not one that would justify his salary.) Given the fact that PFF is a reputable source whose analysis is often taken into consideration by both teams and agents during contract negotiations, it’s hard to imagine that a relatively obscure special teams coordinator is calling the shots there.

    By the way, Kluwe is suing for MANY reasons. Wrongful termination is just one of them. So no, he didn’t have to wait until they cut him before he spoke up about the “hostile work environment” or the “religious discrimination”.

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    • Go back and look at the Deadspin article again, the part about “performance points”. Kluwe is alleging the books were cooked. Who knows, he may have proof of that too.

      Kluwe 2012 was considerably better than Locke 2013 by PFF ratings, so I doubt you’ll see the Vikings try to support their grounds for dismissal for cause based on that metric.

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      • If the performance of former players was re-evaluated and adjusted due to mediocre play of their successors, Canton would need to be a whole lot larger.

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      • Priefer’s assessment of Kluwe’s performance has nothing to do with Pro Football Focus. Kluwe himself admitted that he has no way of knowing whether they were ever shown to management or if they had anything to do with his release. Like I said: independent sources like PFF didn’t think as highly of Kluwe as he thinks of himself. “I don’t suck that much more than I used to” isn’t a great argument for remaining of the leagues highest paid punters, nor does it suggest that you shouldn’t be replaced. I think its easier to blame the coach you didn’t get along with (and, apparently, all of the other coaches in the NFL) than to admit you were the problem. Kluwe is just willing to take it further than most former players.

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  16. Kluwe’s somber-faced, lawyered-up, never-ending media anguish over his hurt feelings and loss of punting opportunities is good clean fun and good entertainment. I need a volunteer to be my gay family member so I can feel the outrage!

    CK and his astro-turfing comments section buddies should enjoy their 15 minutes, because it’s almost up, fellers. :^) In 6 months no one will remember or give a shit and the media won’t give you the time of day.

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    • 2002. Zero states allow same sex marriage.

      Now: 19 states allow same sex marriage. 9 others have same sex marriage bans overturned, pending appeal.

      Yes, the last decade or so has definitely leaned to your bigoted ways, huh?

      I’m going to go ahead and say no. No, your bigoted ways are not winning, and you don’t have to wait six months, as RIGHT NOW there’s a bunch of us who don’t give a shit about you or give you the time of day.

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      • huh, and here i thought it involved what fran used to do with his playgirl on some kind of fake grass in the back yard

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        • whoa whoa whoa Cal, I’m NOT saying that isn’t the definition. As far as I know, that’s what he did, on his way to Reno, right after killing a man to watch him die.

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          • OK, now you’ve gone too far bringing the Man in Black into this horrid thread.
            Go to bed Tomb and check back in the morning when you’re in a better frame of mind!

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        • Weird you should say that Cal.
          I was just sort of starting to wonder myself what “astro-turfing” meant. Still don’t know but I’ll assure you my old girlfriend never entered my thought process.
          Get your mind out of the gutter Man!
          (I’ll send you some pictures someday)

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          • oh, look! it’s july 17th, 2014, tomorrow, also known as ‘someday’. time to send them pics, fran

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  17. I also do not have a gay family member, but I am a bisexual male. I appreciate what Kluwe is doing. For those of you who cry that he doesn’t really mean it or it would have been okay if he had just done it differently, we (myself and other lgbt people that I know) don’t believe your bullshit. There is no way that he could have stud up for justice that y’all would have found acceptable. So keep crying, I think you should. Times are changing for the better.

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    • Sorry Grady. If you do not have a gay relative, you have no dog in this fight and could never understand, let alone comment intelligently.
      Now, bisexuality, I believe I understand a bit.
      For instance, my dog appears to be Bisexual. That guy will hump male OR female dogs! He’ll also hump cats and Humans too.
      I wonder if that could be considered Bestiality?

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  18. Is it even possible to sue an NFL team for wrongful termination? Guys are getting cut daily, it’s the NFL way. Non-guaranteed contract……how could anything possibly hold up? Talk about setting precedent, every cut player ever would be signing up to sue. Race, religion, age…you name it, wide open.

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  19. What Priefer said, IF he said it, was wrong. Point blank and all… What if he’d said “Take all the thieves and nuke em’ “…
    And I am not comparing thieves to gays. Or if he had said all the men under 5′ 10″…or all the wannabe professional athletes. Or all the people who’s ever been to jail, how about whoever drinks and drives. All foul mouths…assholes. Mistreats their spouse. Druggies…All media members. Indians, whites, blacks, asians….middle easterners. Americans…alcoholics.
    Yeah it goes on and on….Point is, does that change your outlook on it?
    It doesn’t mine.
    Not a good thing to say, Mike. Very stupid thing to say. There are a few statements I wrote up there that described me at some point in my life, and a couple that still do. Doesn’t offend me in the least.
    And the #1 reason it doesn’t? Cause he ain’t gonna nuke anybody!!!!!! And everyone knows that.
    There is no real justice to stand for. It’s all overblown BS.
    I’ll say this…if Priefer did say it then he is as much to blame as Kluwe.
    Damn lets play some football.

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    • Cart, I think you’re missing the point. Are thieves allowed to marry and live the American dream? How about short people, wannabe athletes, foul mouths, spousal abusers etc.

      Hell, convicts, while in prison, can marry. So the message is: murderers can retain their civil rights, but homosexuals in a consensual relationship cannot.

      I guess I don’t see the logic, nor the rationale to that in America.

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      • Well Tomb I don’t see that this has anything to do with that. The whole life, love and pursuit of happiness.
        This is about rounding up a select group and nuking them…or the saying of that to a group of people.
        I don’t agree that gays being able to marry is a good thing, just don’t. Hope I didn’t offend anyone.

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  20. Leave gays alone and in peace. But nuke Kluwe, who is the most self-absorbed jerk since Ochocinco or Terrell Owens.

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  21. I don’t care what Kluwe says, thinks or does. Kluwe had a big leg and great potential to become one of the best punter’s in the league . But he couldn’t or was unwilling to work at coffin corner kicks. I know they tried to get Greg Coleman to help him , obviously nothing came of it. His hang time was sporadic and he could not corner kick to save his job. That is why he was replaced and he knew the writing was on the wall 2 season’s before it happened.

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  22. It’s amazsing to go to see this web pagfe and reading the views off all colleagues on the topic of this paragraph, while I am also keen of getting familiarity.

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