Saturday, July 4, 2015

mike priefer

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Which Special Teams Player will Stand Out for the Vikings in 2015?

Darren: Adam Thielen 
Thielen might be the common answer here, but as long as he keeps his place on the roster in 2015, he should make the biggest impact on special teams. He seems to be in on more special teams tackles than any other Viking and also made an impact with a blocked punt and a touchdown against Carolina last season. Minnesota could even opt to help out its secondary by dumping Marcus Sherels, which would slide Thielen into the job of punt returner, where he has flashed some skills in preseason.


Andy:
[Punter to be Named Later]
Jeff Locke has to step it up in year three or he’s gone. Yes, he’ll probably benefit greatly from kicking indoors in 2016, but the Vikings can’t wait that long. He needs to start being an asset instead of a liability in the field position game this season, or he’ll be replaced. There will be improvement at the punter position in 2015. Whether that’s because Locke’s improved (having a familiar long snapper might help if McDermott beats out Loeffler) or because he’s been replaced is yet to be determined.

[NOTE FROM ARIF: With details of the settlement now made public, we can provide more information]

UPDATE: With the terms released, we now have more to speculate with. Per reports from Chris Tomasson at the Pioneer Press, we know the following—

  • The Vikings will donate to five different LGBT groups over the next five years, several local. Kluwe mentioned on twitter that it was a “substantial amount.” To reporter Chris Tommason of the Pioneer Press, Halunen said, ““Everybody knows the numbers we have been talking about over the past seven months. It’s substantial.”
    • One of those organizations is the Matthew Shepard Foundation, dedicated to the memory of Matthew Shepard, murdered in Laramie, Wyoming because of his sexual orientation. It attempts to “Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion, & Acceptance” with outreach and advocacy work.
    • Some of these organizations are Minnesota organizations.
  • The Vikings will implement enhanced training within the entire organization, and renew their committed to a zero tolerance policy on homophobia.
  • The Vikings will be working to create a symposium to bring together sports and LBGTQ leaders in order to address this issue in sports.
  • Chris Kluwe is free to talk about his experience with the Vikings, but not the allegations. He says he will write about his experiences in his memoirs.
  • The full 150-page executive summary of the investigation will not be released.

Further, Chris Kluwe released this statement via twitter in regards to the report’s release, “Our worry there was that there were systemic problems being covered up, but there weren’t. Then it became, do I want this to be about me? (And prove the haters right) Or do we try to do a lot of good for a lot of other people. We’ve chosen to help those who need it, in a way that hopefully will set an example moving forward for others to follow.”

The Vikings released the following statement:

“We appreciate Chris Kluwe’s contributions to the Minnesota Vikings as a player and a member of this organization during his eight seasons in which he established many team records as our punter, and we wish him and his family the best in the future/ In regards to this matter, our focus remains on maintaining a culture of tolerance, inclusion and respect, and creating the best workplace environment for our players, coaches and staff.”

I speculated about the implications of not releasing the report as it pertains to both the Vikings and Chris Kluwe over at Vikings Journal, but suffice to say the Vikings probably dodged a bullet by being allowed to keep the report secret.

Also, Chris Kluwe and Clay Madel demanded an apology from Kevin Warren, Vikings executive vice president and chief administrative officer for two comments: that he was a punter in decline and for releasing “out of context” statements regarding the Sandusky jokes. I’m not entirely sure why he should apologize for the first, but if the context changes Chris Kluwe’s statements, then an apology makes sense—if context can.

Kevin Warren responded with a nonpology, similar to Kluwe’s non-apology apology in regards to the rape jokes:

If there’s anyone that we offended along the way while we were working on this, we were trying do the best and get to the facts and get to the truth. We just want to make sure we apologize to anyone that was really involved in this process because it was complicated and it was stressful for a lot of people involved. … But I think at the end of the day, the results that you have seen and you’ve heard, that this will build positive awareness for the LGBT community.

It’s just me personally, being the executive and an attorney internally (with the Vikings). That’s speaking for me, personally. … It’s really for the whole process. This has been a complicated situation, and we tried to handle it with integrity and professionalism and honesty. … And if anybody was kind of offended along the way, within our organization or externally, it was not done without any intent or ill will whatever. We were just trying to conduct a professional investigation.

Original story below:

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Adam Thielen is, without a doubt, one of the most talked-about guys in Mankato this year. He impressed early on in training camp, and after Friday’s first preseason game, the buzz only increased.

“[Adam]’s a guy that has a lot of toughness, a lot of heart,” head coach Mike Zimmer said during Sunday’s press conference. “He wants to make the football team, and he’s giving his best effort to do it. Guys like him—you can win a lot of football games with guys like him.”

Thielen entered his second year ready to make an impression, and he certainly has. His explosiveness, agility and reception accuracy spoke for itself on the practice field, but the receiver stepped onto TCF Field and proved he is ready for the real stuff.

The Vikings mic’d Thielen for the game, so television viewers could listen in on bits and pieces of the game experience. He laughed, admitting he occasionally forgot that he was wired up. “It was a really different experience, but it was great.” *

Special teams coach Mike Priefer utilized Thielen for punt coverage and returns, and the WR hit the ground running—literally. After Oakland went three and out on its first possession, Thielen fielded Marquette King’s punt and ran for three yards before being tackled at the 30. He immediately jumped up, pumping his arms in a gesture of equal excitement and frustration.

In case you didn’t notice, the Minnesota Vikings and ex-punter Chris Kluwe are engaged in an ugly public relations battle that will soon evolve to an even uglier legal battle. Kluwe threw the first punch with his hefty accusations published at Deadspin back in January.

It took a while, but the Vikings organization has circled the wagons, and now thrown a few jabs back at Kluwe. Their summary of the investigation findings was released last night and then Chris Kluwe proceeded to, quite frankly, punch himself in the face on Twitter a few times last night.

The Vikings still contend that Chris Kluwe was not fired from his job for his activism, but rather released from his contract for football reasons, and I believe them (always have thought that, if you’ve been here for a while). Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer has also finally stopped lying and apologized for making inappropriate comments and the Vikings are reprimanding him with a suspension. Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier seem to be non-issues, essentially, despite the title of Kluwe’s initial article.

In many cases like this there are never any clear winners, just losers, outside of the legal team being paid to play prevent defense within the confines of the judicial system. This is a high profile case, however, so you can probably put “media outlets” right up there with the lawyers when it comes to people that stand to benefit from this mess.

Now comes the mud, however.

In an obvious attempt to attack Kluwe’s character the Vikings have included in their release a tidbit that turned into a social media bombshell. They say that Kluwe made light of the Penn State molestation situation in a lewd and offensive manner, and he admits that he did.

He also attempted to threaten the organization by claiming to have knowledge of a situation involving two well-known Vikings players being caught in a compromising situation with an underage girl. That admission backfired a bit, as people immediately wondered why Kluwe has again sat on his hands and done nothing with this information about his former employers.

This morning, before leaving for a long Saturday (yes, Saturday, dang it) of work at my real job, I read a number of articles from fine writers questioning Kluwe’s intent.  Some were more harsh than others.

One of those articles came from Gregg Doyel at CBS Sports, and this evening Kluwe felt compelled to respond to Mr. Doyel, who called Kluwe out as being disgusting and hypocritical. You can read the whole thing here, but I want to focus on something Kluwe has said a few times over the past 24 hours, and said it again in his response to Doyel.

If it comes to speaking truth to power, standing up to blind fanaticism, that’s what I’m going to do.

This is the type of well-planned rhetoric that I have grown accustomed to in all things Kluwe. The guy is a wordsmith and a talented one. Still, I’m calling bulls*** on this one, and his other versions of the same sentiment, and feel like it is an attack on myself and many other Vikings fans.

I used to think this case that Kluwe had against Priefer and the Vikings was bigger than football. That is what was annoying about it as a hack football blogger, to be honest, because it wasn’t an X’s and O’s type of storyline, but it was important enough that it couldn’t be ignored. Regardless of how your politics are oriented, social justice is something we can’t simply ignore in favor of a sporting event or else we all lose, plain and simple.

Still, Kluwe’s decision to bring this back down to the level of football fandom and attack those that have “sided” with his “opponents” smells of desperation and is an insult to a fanbase that once showed him plenty of love.

Having covered the Vikings for quite a while now I can tell you that a majority of fans do not blindly support the Vikings organization. I’ve seen them criticize the organization for plenty, and I’m not just talking about on the field productivity.

I’ve seen fans call for the Wilf family to be run out of town for their demand for public funds. I’ve seen fans point to the arrests up and down rosters of Vikings past and demand change. I’ve seen fans upset over the release of a player on Christmas, over the team’s support of a player that allegedly choked his girlfriend, and over the lewd conduct of the players on that boat.

I’ve seen fans declare their fandom to be finished over how the organization treated specific players, with Antoine Winfield being the most recent example that comes to mind.

Chris Kluwe needs to understand that fans, myself included, are individuals that are capable of deciding things for ourselves. Many, albeit not all, are even intelligent enough to make coherent and intelligent decisions (or assumptions, as he might call them) about a subject being presented. We are even able to put our excitement over Vikings football to the side in order to form our opinions, whether he believes it or not.

I’m not saying Kluwe isn’t on the other end of some unfair and uninformed venom, especially considering he chooses to be plugged into social media as a public figure, I’m sure he sees more than his fair share of it. Conversely, he and the equality movement also have blind followers that will defend and attack on cue without considering the opposing viewpoint.

However, some of his own assumptions are way off base, starting with the one where he thinks any Vikings fan that disagrees with his approach to these issues are simply blind followers of some colors on a jersey.

At the other end of a disagreement is not always a blind follower of a football team, or a religion, or a political platform. At the other end of those arguments are often someone who just flat out thinks he is wrong, or thinks he is partially wrong, or is maybe even still trying to sort this mess out in their mind and has their doubts.

What Mike Priefer did was wrong and that has been admitted. I’ve never agreed with Kluwe’s reasoning for why he thinks he was released, but I’ve never questioned his integrity, until last night’s Twitter rant. I still don’t think Kluwe was wronged when he was released, but now I’m wondering about his character as a person willing to harass a coach about their affiliation to an organization facing the worst kind of scandal and also his willingness to sit idle while the Vikings allegedly sweep their own scandal under the rug.

Mike Priefer needs to be accountable for what he did. Now, however, Chris Kluwe has some explaining to do. According to Kluwe’s Twitter account, we will have to wait until he’s in court to get that explanation, because that way it will be “more fun.”

Call it blind faith in a football team if you want to be that ignorant about it, but I’m starting to have some serious doubts about the punter who thinks he can do no wrong and his willingness to belittle the rest of us.

Out of fairness to Kluwe, I offered him a chance to respond to this article before I posted it, and here is what he had to say:

So you know, that reference was to Penn State, not to people who support the Vikings. That’s your assumption to make, not what I stated. My issue is with people who blindly support something no matter what evidence comes out (i.e. Penn State), and something you may want to consider is that the Vikings released a version of the report they carefully combed for what they wanted to present, not the entire thing. If you’re truly for informed conversation, the Vikings releasing the full report will allow us to have that. What they currently put out? Nothing more than the opening salvo from a company getting ready for a protracted legal battle.
Ask yourself this. In a 29 page summary of a 150 page report with 1600 pages of footnotes and sources, why were only 3 pages devoted to the actual subject of the report, and 26 devoted to the person who raised the complaint.
Just something to think about.

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The recent fallout in Miami is a sober reminder that the NFL locker room is not immune to drama, nor is it exempt from workplace misconduct being investigated and punished.  One giant monkey on the back of the Vikings organization continues to be the investigation into the allegations made by punter Chris Kluwe against Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer.

There are many reasons for an individual to note the outcome of the investigation when the time comes.  When you narrow the interest down to just the football ramifications, however, there are no positive outcomes likely.

If the investigators deem that Priefer, General Manager Rick Spielman, Owner Zygi Wilf, or the Vikings organization as a whole are indeed guilty of bigotry and workplace misconduct then heads could roll at Winter Park.  This scenario played out (or is playing out currently) in Miami and it isn’t pretty.

This is the point in the offseason where the coaching ranks have been pretty well picked over and trying to replace a guy like Priefer, who even Kluwe admits is a very good special teams coach, would almost certainly result in a lesser on-field product.  That type of scenario would certainly hinder the team’s chances at success in 2014.

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