An attorney for Chris Kluwe is guilty of exactly what he claims the Vikings are doing: jumping to conclusions.
When the Vikings announced their coaching staff Thursday, there were no promises made that this was the be-all, end-all for the staff in 2014, but with Mike Priefer retained as the special teams coordinator, at least for now, one of Kluwe's attorneys, Clayton Halunen, went on the offensive.
To recap, Kluwe has waged charges of homophobia and bigotry against Priefer, stemming from before Kluwe was released by the team. Kluwe claimed in an article he penned for Deadspin.com shortly after the 2013 season that Priefer used homophobic language in front of him and other members of the special teams. At times, Kluwe claimed, Priefer's words were in a joking manner. But one time in particular, according to Kluwe, Priefer went too far and allegedly said that homosexuals should be rounded up on an island and nuked.
Strong allegations indeed … and ones that Priefer has "vehemently" denied. But the Vikings acted swiftly once Kluwe waged those allegations. They retained two attorneys to investigate the charges, an investigation that is still ongoing and is expected to last into early March.
The team has not fired Priefer yet. They haven't clear him yet either. They are, as they should be, waiting for the results of the investigation.
When the investigating attorneys, Chris Madel and Eric Magnuson, were announced, Kluwe and his attorneys praised the selections. Kluwe remains in wait-and-see mode, choosing not to comment publicly until the investigation is concluded.
Halunen, however, hasn't been as patient, apparently ready to condemn Priefer (and the Vikings) before the investigation is completed. Madel told the Pioneer Press that he informed Kluwe's lawyers that the investigation is ongoing, but that hasn't been enough for Halunen in the wake of Priefer still being listed on the Vikings' coaching roster when it was released last week.
"It's unbelievable to us. It shows that the Vikings are not sincere about this supposed investigation, that it's a mere charade, and at the end of the day they're going to cover up this," Halunen said.
"My one-word description is ‘outrageous.' It's almost unimaginable that there's a pending investigation regarding whether or not this guy engaged in homophobic, hate-filled behavior and without even a conclusion in the findings they've retained this person as a coach, as a leader."
Apparently the Vikings were supposed to fire Priefer BEFORE the conclusion of the investigation? To be clear, there are no clear indications yet on what the investigation will find – guilty or innocent. Yet Kluwe's lawyer is apparently ready to file a lawsuit or two against the Vikings.
Even if the investigation does turn up some level of guilt against Priefer, there is no guarantee it would end his employment with the Vikings. First, he is a well-respected coach in the NFL. At the conclusion of the 2012 season, the Dallas Morning News declared the Vikings' special teams tops in the league.
Even more so, players that supposedly heard Priefer's alleged comments have publicly refuted Kluwe's report. Perhaps what they said to the investigators behind closed doors is a different story, but even those who weren't part of the Vikings' initial wave of reaction on the matter have come out in support of Priefer.
Even as recently as the last few days, defensive tackle Chase Baker called Priefer a good coach and, more pertinent to this topic, a good man.
Kluwe has repeated referred to his belief that he was released because of his stance in support of gay marriage. It has been a very outspoken stance. Subject matter aside, Priefer and others in authority likely grew weary of Kluwe speaking out on any topic so often and pursuing any pulpit available from which to preach. In the NFL, any in-season distraction other than charity events is often frowned upon.
Kluwe responded to fan and reporter inquiries several times, saying that his being outspoken on the topic didn't distract from his ability to punt. It might not have, but in using vile language in a letter written to a Maryland politician opposed to gay marriage, Kluwe didn't exactly present a positive position of the organization, whether it was "during work hours" or not.
All of his talk certainly wore thin with coaches, but that doesn't mean that is why the Vikings released him in May 2013 after drafting Jeff Locke as their next punter. While Kluwe maintains that the statistics show he is the best punter in Vikings – he is probably right about that – statistics would also show how much punting and kicking have improved throughout the league over the years. Kluwe may be the best punter in franchise history, but compared to the rest of the league in his final years with the Vikings, he was only average.
His salary, however, was scheduled to be almost three times more than it cost the Vikings to employ Locke in 2013. That's the cold, hard economics of the NFL, and Kluwe was far from alone in feeling that sting. Pat Williams, Antoine Williams and Ryan Longwell all felt the pain of The Turk when their age and salary surpassed their perceived worth.
Unless investigators are able to have other players substantiate Kluwe's claims in full, it looks like he may be disappointed in his quest to have Priefer pay for the punter's release, and it is a decision that may have even gone above Priefer. And even if the investigation backs some of Kluwe's claims, he could be disappointed if Priefer is merely fined or suspended.
For now, all of that is awaiting the results of the investigation, even if Kluwe's lawyer isn't willing to wait to pass judgment on Priefer and the Vikings.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Sunday slant: Kluwe's lawyer judging hastily
Viking Update Top Stories
Notebook: Problems extended beyond pass proThe Minnesota Vikings had obvious problems with pass protection, but there are other areas head coach Mike Zimmer is addressing, too.
Viking Update7:41 PM
Vikings will look at ‘all options’ to improveComing off a loss that Mike Zimmer termed “embarrassing,” a 21-10 defeat against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings will look at all options to rectify the situation.
Viking Update2:42 PM
VIDEO: Zimmer: 'This is a gut-check day'Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer recapped the first loss of the season by pointing out "several dumb things" he found to be uncharacteristic of his team.
Viking Update1:06 PM
Counting snaps: Vikings vs. EaglesDespite a “soft” performance on the offensive line, according to coach Mike Zimmer, the Minnesota Vikings seemed interested in getting a rotation going there.
Viking Update6:23 AM