Monday, January 6, 2014
Kluwe hires lawyer for Vikings' investigation
By Ben Goessling
MINNEAPOLIS -- Chris Kluwe said last week he has every intention of cooperating with the Minnesota Vikings as they investigate the former punter's claims that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer made homophobic remarks during the 2012 season. It's also clear, though, that Kluwe is doing so with an eye for what could come next.
He has retained Minneapolis attorney Clayton Halunen to represent him in the Vikings' internal investigation, Halunen's law firm announced on Monday. Halunen will serve as co-counsel with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, according to a statement released by the firm. And while Kluwe said in the statement he wants "the truth to come out from the investigation, not in litigation," he had said last week that he's prepared to name the other players whom he said heard Priefer's comments if "this goes legal."
After Kluwe's allegations were published in a Deadspin piece last week, Priefer released a statement saying he "vehemently" denied the allegations, and several Vikings players came to the special teams coordinator's defense, including kicker Blair Walsh. Kluwe said he had no audio recordings of Priefer's comments, only the records he wrote down at the time and the testimony of other players, but he also said he didn't expect current Vikings players to take his side when he believed he was run out of the NFL for his outspoken support of same-sex marriage.
If Priefer were to file a defamation lawsuit against Kluwe, the punter would have a legal team in place to defend him. And it's not out of the question that Kluwe could file a discrimination lawsuit if the Vikings' investigation -- which is being conducted by former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney Chris Madel -- doesn't produce what he believes to be a suitable result.
Monday's announcement, at the very least, made it even clearer this battle won't be going away for a while. And it probably won't end quietly.
"It’s obvious to me -- as it should be to most thinking people familiar with the situation -- that Chris paid a steep price for speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage rights in 2012 while he was a Vikings player,” Halunen said in the news release. “Ultimately it may have cost him both his job with the Vikings and his career as an NFL player, along with much emotional anguish over what he believed to be a kind of personal attack on him for his views on a vital issue of human rights.
"Even so, Chris is not bitter towards the Vikings, nor does he carry a personal vendetta against anyone associated with the team. He is grateful to the Vikings for the great career he had with the team. But he couldn’t stand by when someone with as much influence in sports as a member of the Vikings coaching staff makes dangerous and dehumanizing statements against the LGBT community.”