The most famous (or is it infamous?) punter in modern history tries to pin the Minnesota Vikings against their end zone.
Chris Kluwe may possess a number of less-than-desirable qualities, but the former punter’s media savvy remains arguably his strongest suit. Since leveling accusations against the Minnesota Vikings, in particular special teams coach Mike Priefer, of fostering an atmosphere of homosexual hatred which led to his firing by “two cowards and a bigot,” Kluwe has remained relatively quiet. Perhaps partially motivated by a press corps seemingly less willing to believe him, or realizing that his legal strategy depended upon him dragging many of his former teammates into the mix, Kluwe and his representation had said little about the Vikings’ independent investigation in the past seven months.
That changed Tuesday as Kluwe charged that the Vikings’ investigation has concluded and that the lack of public disclosure over the findings proved Kluwe’s allegations of bigotry:
The onetime punter said Tuesday the team is “reneging on a promise” to release a copy of its completed investigation of alleged anti-gay sentiments expressed by special teams coach Mike Priefer during the 2012 season.
Kluwe and his attorney, Clayton Halunen, announced at a morning news conference that they will file suit against the Vikings alleging discrimination on the grounds of religion, human rights, defamation and “torturous interference for contractual relations.”
The move is self-aggrandizing and potentially premature (the Vikings said the independent investigatory group would provide a report this week). Had the press conference included accusations of the team of being “lustful c**kmonsters,” it would have been vintage Kluwe.
It was also a somewhat smart public relations ploy. Now, whenever Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P release their findings, Kluwe can claim his pressure forced the team to do so. And Kluwe’s willingness to forgo a lawsuit for a monetary settlement that goes towards an LGBT cause also assists both the Vikings, in helping the issue go away faster, and Kluwe himself as even old media allies questioned the punter’s motivations (the KFAN Morning Show, who often gave Kluwe free-rein to voice his opinions on all matter of subjects, openly wondered if he was making a money grab this morning).
But “somewhat smart” isn’t the same as “smart.” Kluwe’s strategy only truly works if the independent investigation proves some or all of Kluwe’s anecdotes, in particular his claim that Mike Priefer suggested moving gay people to an island and hitting it with a nuclear bomb. Not unlike the current Jesse Ventura defamation suit, Kluwe’s case ultimately comes down to a “he said/he said” legal battle. Even if Kluwe is 100% accurate in quoting Vikings’ staff, he would still have to prove a correlation between comments like Priefer’s and his cutting in 2013. The Vikings can respond about Kluwe’s declining skills and (for the position) high salary – reasons that even Kluwe cited…when cut last summer by the Oakland Raiders.
The outcome of the investigation – or any following legal action – may be pointless. Kluwe’s defenders will continue to insist the end of his career was due to his gay rights activism, and not his next-to-last finish for punts inside the 20-yard line while making $1.45 million. Kluwe’s detractors will continue to be maligned as being bothered by his politics rather than his penchant for vulgar name-calling to anyone who doesn’t share his views (on gay rights or other subjects).
Other than attorneys or an LGBT charity, it’s hard pressed to see who benefits from this continued fight.