If you wanted to read every word said or written by Chris Kluwe over the last few days, then you have certainly had your work cut out for you, as it seems like he has found the time to speak with just about every media outlet north of the equator. With that being said, if you are going to read just one, make sure it is Tom Pelissero’s (we miss you, Tom) one-on-one with Kluwe at USA Today.
Kluwe has not backed down from the allegation he let loose on Deadspin two days ago, insisting that special teams coach Mike Priefer had Kluwe cut due to bigotry. I think you are all aware that I think Kluwe was cut for other reasons, but I also don’t think Kluwe is a liar. The Vikings are attempting to find out.
The Vikings announced yesterday that they have returned two big-time lawyers to oversee an investigation. Their statement:
The Minnesota Vikings have retained two partners of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P. to complete an independent review of yesterday’s allegations by Chris Kluwe.
Former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Chris Madel will lead the investigation.
“It is extremely important for the Vikings organization to react immediately and comprehensively with an independent review of these allegations,” said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf.
Magnuson, who is currently a partner at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P. and teaches at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, is highly-regarded in Minnesota and throughout the country. He has more than 35 years of practice, including over two years (2008-10) as the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Madel is the Chair of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P.’s Government and Internal Investigations Group, and has led numerous high-profile investigations, including the extensively publicized internal investigation of the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. Madel has also been selected as the Minnesota Lawyer’s “Attorney of the Year” for 2011, 2012, and 2013, and is the first attorney to win the award for three consecutive years.
“This is a highly sensitive matter that we as an organization will address with integrity,” said Vikings Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Warren. “Eric and Chris have stellar reputations in both the local and national legal community. They have handled numerous cases involving a wide range of issues, and we are confident they will move swiftly and fairly in completing this investigation.”
Robins, Kaplan’s investigation has already begun and will include interviews with current and former members of the Vikings organization.
While I understand the need for the Vikings to conduct this investigation, with a major blow to their image hanging in the balance, I personally think this whole thing has gotten a little out of hand. I think Kluwe is hypocritical and misguided in his assumptions, in his assessment as to why he was cut, and NFL history is all the evidence a courtroom should need to give Priefer the benefit of the doubt.
Last offseason, Kluwe was not the only contract-year player put in a tough spot, especially after Rick Spielman publicly declared his intent to create a youth movement within the Vikings roster.
Kevin Williams was forced to take a paycut and a year off his contract, with Sharrif Floyd being drafted in the first round as his presumptive replacement. Antoine Winfield was released due to his high salary number and age, with Xavier Rhodes being drafted to help the team try and account for his departure. Percy Harvin, also entering his contract season, was traded to Seattle with Cordarrelle Patterson being drafted to fill the void left by Harvin both on offense and within Preifer’s return unit.
If you think an NFL punter isn’t replaceable then you haven’t been paying attention. If you think an expensive, regressing, injured and aging punter can’t isn’t expendable then you really haven’t been paying attention. Moves are made in professional sports, particularly in the NFL, all the time that resemble exactly what happened to Kluwe. In fact, more often than not a player is released or traded before his contract is up, that is just part of the business.
Kluwe, a full season after his release, still seems genuinely floored that he wasn’t allowed to play out his contract.
If his surprise is real, then he has certainly not been paying attention.