Shortly after Chris Kluwe indicated on Twitter that he and his lawyer, Clay Halunen, intended to pursue a lawsuit in court come Monday, the Vikings responded full force. First, the Vikings have released a conclusion of the report at kluweinvestigation.com, which you can download here.
UPDATE: It’s extremely important to note that that report is not written by Chris Madel or any of the other investigators at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP. In January, the Vikings hired RKMC and Chris Madel to conduct an independent investigation. Some time in the past week, they hired Littler Mendelson to handle the legal matters surrounding the release of this report and potentially any lawsuits the Vikings would be subject to. Littler Mendelson (specifically, it seems, Donald S. Prophete of Littler Mendelson) wrote the memo, which is drawn upon the report.
Again, Littler Mendelson is being paid to protect the Vikings, which means the 29-page document everyone is working off of is written in a particular way to make the Vikings look as good as possible, which means there is a very good chance of deliberate selectiveness in choosing what facts to report from the investigation. They are also free to insert their own facts at will.
If you’re reading the report, take care to note which conclusions or arguments are preceded by attribution to the investigation (usually referred to “RKMC” or the “Investigators”) and which arguments or conclusions are presented as facts without attribution to who discovered them. Generally, if a player was “interviewed to have said” or “reported that,” it is also a reference to the investigation.
For example, it is curious that the report did not seemingly investigate Kluwe’s claims of altered performance grades, religious discrimination or what Rick Spielman did upon learning from Les Pico that Mike Priefer made non-specific “derogatory remarks”. It would also explain the inclusion of weirdly irrelevant data (like some of the specious use of punting statistics and the section about how much Wilf support the LGBT rights movement).
Though the Vikings have been very forward about taking shots at Kluwe for litigating in the press, the fact that they’re producing a scrubbed memo that is as favorable as possible to them but also excoriates Kluwe means they are now “guilty” of the same thing, but that doesn’t mean the Vikings are any more in the wrong. Simply that in attempting to control the message, they are trying to make sure—just like Kluwe—that they have a better media presence (and that Kluwe has a worse one) than otherwise would have happened.
In the comments below, commenter XLevity points out that deliberate misrepresentation of the findings would violate the American Bar Association’s code of ethics, which is true. That is also largely irrelevant, because a summary of the findings written by Littler Mendelson designed to protect the Vikings does not have to violate the ABA’s code of ethics in order to be misleading; there is a difference between selectively providing relevant information in order to construct a one-sided case and deliberately misrepresenting the investigation’s findings.
Nowhere in the document should you suspect Littler Mendelson of lying, but it is still important to keep track of what is attributed to the investigation and what facts are proffered at will—a conversation Spielman had with his wife, for instance, may be in the report and in the memo Littler Mendelson wrote, but the report may have dismissed the importance of that conversation, while the memo may not have mentioned how important that conversation was to their findings.
The post below has been changed to reflect that this is not the investigation by RKMC, but a memo written by lawyers representing the Vikings.
The memo, which has been sanitized by the Vikings according to Kluwe, contains a number of findings that are not favorable to Kluwe, other than the claim that Priefer made the alleged comment. There’s a 150-page executive summary of the report that has not been released.
In the memo, it’s reported that Madel and other investigators found that Priefer did in fact make the statements Kluwe alleges him to have made, but there are conflicting reports about how it was taken—Loeffler reportedly claims that the statement was “laughed off” at the time. Regardless, a statement by itself like this may not be enough grounds for a lawsuit of any sort. The rest of the memo as the Vikings have released it is not necessarily friendly to Kluwe. As a result, Priefer released the following apology:
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. 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. - Mike Priefer
Mike Priefer will be suspended three games, but upon completion of appropriate sensitivity training can have that reduced by one (so he can reduce his suspension to a minimum of two games).
UPDATE: Adam Schefter reports that, in addition to his three-game suspension, Priefer will be fined.