Mike Priefer and Blair Walsh deny Chris Kluwe’s allegations

chriskluwe

Minnesota Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer is denying allegations by former punter Chris Kluwe that he is an anti-gay bigot.

I vehemently deny today’s allegations made by Chris Kluwe. 

I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals. I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member. 

The primary reason I entered coaching was to affect people in a positive way. As a coach, I have always created an accepting environment for my players, including Chris, and have looked to support them both on and off the field.

The comments today have not only attacked my character and insulted my professionalism, but they have also impacted my family. While my career focus is to be a great professional football coach, my number one priority has always been to be a protective husband and father to my wife and children. 

I will continue to work hard for the Minnesota Vikings, the Wilf family and all of our loyal fans.

The reality is this story will get far more press than it deserves. It involves a punter who is no longer among the NFL’s best and a special teams coach who will soon be out of a job.

For the record the Vikings drafted a punter in the mid-rounds of the 2014 draft after Kluwe ranked 17th in net punting in 2012 with a 39.7 yard average. Kluwe also ranked 25th in Pro Football Focus’ punter ratings in 2012. Simply put his salary was as much of a reason for his release as his views. Kluwe was set to make $1.4 million in 2013 with the Vikings.

As for Kluwe being cut by the Raiders…. still waiting for his opinion piece on that.

Kicker Blair Walsh also released a statement defending Priefer and the Vikings coaching staff.

I have been a member of the Minnesota Vikings for 2 years.  I want to start off by saying I have the utmost respect for Rick Spielman, Leslie Frazier and Mike Priefer.  All three, are good men.

I have had countless conversations and interactions with Coach Priefer, and I personally can attest to his integrity and character.  His professionalism in the workplace is exemplary, and I firmly believe that my teammates would whole-heartedly agree.  The allegations made today are reprehensible and totally not compatible with what Mike Priefer stands for. 

As we all know, in the NFL you must perform at the highest level and meet the performance expectations of your coaches, management, and ownership.  If these expectations, based upon past performance AND future potential for excellence, are not met, your NFL career with that team, is over.  I believe this was the case with Chris, and it is unfair to think that his release was anything other than football related.

In my time here at Minnesota, Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier have exemplified true leadership. Contrary to Chris’ statements, they have promoted a workplace environment that was conducive for success.  At no time did I ever feel suppressed or that I could not be myself.  

I firmly stand behind Rick Spielman, Leslie Frazier, and Mike Priefer.

Blair Walsh

Walsh joined the Vikings as a rookie in 2012.