Kluwe: Rabidly homophobic Vikings fired me for being pro-gay

Former Minnesota Vikings football player Chris Kluwe claims that he was let go from the Vikings because he is pro-gay.

Kluwe is himself straight, but has been outspoken in his defense of gay rights in general, and marriage equality in particular.

In a blockbuster op ed, Kluwe alleges ramptant homophobia among the Vikings coaches, including one coach who allegedly said gays should be rounded up and mass-murdered.  Kluwe adds that the Minnesota Vikings’ owner was supportive of him, but it clearly didn’t save him his job.  When push came to shove, Kluwe was fired – where was the owner then?


Among the examples of homophobia that Kluwe alleges, he says he was told by head coach Leslie Frazier that he “needed to be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff” – referring to gay civil rights.

“Be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff”

Coach Frazier immediately told me that I ‘needed to be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff‘,” referrring to Kluwe’s gay rights advocacy.  Kluwe says he told Coach Frazier that he felt speaking out was the right thing to do, and Coach Frazier “reiterated his fervent desire for me to cease speaking on the subject, stating that ‘a wise coach once told me there are two things you don’t talk about in the NFL, politics and religion.'”

Kluwe also alleges that Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer was particularly homophobic, and would call gays “disgusting,” and talk about them “burning in hell.”

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo.

Denounced as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss

“Throughout the months of September, October, and November, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer would use homophobic language in my presence,” Kluwe writes. “He would ask me if I had written any letters defending “the gays” recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance.”

Priefer has the status of coach.

Kluwe says he tried to laugh off the comments, while telling Priefer that gays were human being “who deserved to be treated as human beings.”

Gays will burn in hell

Kluwe says Priefer’s gay-bashing didn’t stop.  “Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays,” Kluwe says, “and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible.”

Kluwe says that Priefer’s tone was “semi-joking.”

Round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows

Possibly the worst allegation is that Priefer allegedly said that gays should be rounded up, put on an island, and nuked.

“As we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: ‘We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows,'” Kluwe says. “The room grew intensely quiet, and none of the players said a word for the rest of the meeting. The atmosphere was decidedly tense. I had never had an interaction that hostile with any of my teammates on this issue—some didn’t agree with me, but our conversations were always civil and respectful. Afterward, several told me that what Mike Priefer had said was ‘messed up.’ After this point, Mike Priefer began saying less and less to me, and our interactions were stilted.”

The NFL has a long history of homophobia, though there have been recent shining lights, such as Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo. But we’ve also had to deal with the likes of Chris Culliver of the San Francisco 49ers, and the 49ers incredibly pathetic response to Culliver’s rank homophobia.

If Kluwes’ allegations are true – and they’re awfully detailed for a lie or a misunderstanding – then Coach Frazier shouldn’t work in the NFL again, and Mike Priefer needs to be fired on the spot.  And that’s only the beginning of the recompense necessary.

Suggesting that gays should be rounded up and killed en masse, Hitler style, in American professional football.  This is beyond disgraceful, and yet another black eye for what was already a low bar for tolerance in the NFL.

UPDATE: Some sports fans want to quibble about whether coaches are “management,” or whether owners are management.  I think it’s a distinction without a difference.  If two coaches, at least, were acting in a homophobic manner, and one coach was rabidly homophobic, and nothing was done about it – other than to fire someone who was pro-gay – then the Vikings have a serious problem with homophobia in the management of that team.

(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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62 Responses to “Kluwe: Rabidly homophobic Vikings fired me for being pro-gay”

  1. cole3244 says:

    i already signed.

  2. Dakotahgeo says:

    First of all, not a dumb question or girl :-)…. The Chiefs (football) and Royals (baseball) are located in KC, Missouri. Until this last year, I always thought they should have a 2 for 1 sale: You buy the Royals, you get the Chiefs free, or visa versa. We didn’t have any takers, for better or worse. Cheers!

  3. I for one don’t understand why nobody else seems to see how homoerotic football is in the first place. I mean, come on. “Unnecessary roughness in the end zone”? “Illegal holding on the part of the tight end”? “Nice ball handling on the sack”? And all that congratulatory butt slapping by bulky guys in Spandex tights? Methinks ANYONE in the NFL is protesting too much! ;-)

  4. Dumb question (I’m a girl, if that helps).

    Which Kansas City are the Chiefs (and MLB Royals) from? I’m guessing Missouri?

  5. Nazional Fascist League

  6. Hypothetical question: what if instead of this guy it was Tom Brady or Peyton Manning on the Vikings speaking out in favor of equality? Do you think either of them would get fired too? If so, then it’s probably because of the dumb macho military culture of the NFL that treats brain injuries like paper cuts.

  7. First they came for the tight ends…

  8. Agreed. It’s also as bigoted as saying “I am opposed to the ‘black lifestyle’.”

  9. I am not gay but people like this coach and everyone on Fart Noise Channel make me wish my life would end. I’m so done with this fascist, Puritanical country. America sucks.

  10. This coach sounds like another dude obsessed with victory for the “Vikings.” Oops, I mean the “Aryan nation.” Seriously, did no one give the coach the memo that it’s not 1938 anymore and you can’t just throw people in a slaughterhouse because they’re “unfit” to you?

  11. ColoKat says:

    I have always been friends with gays/lesbians. I understand many of their struggle’s, and I feel for them. But it seems as with ALL things in America-in trying to “right the wrongs of the past” we tend to go Way Overboard! I believe that a person’s sexual interest in a most private thing. We don’t have to put it out there. I understand that gays are often discriminated against. BUT Many people are discriminated against-and oftentimes it is well hidden in how they do it. A person with a birth defect that looks bad to some, a fat person, an Any color person with horrible teeth, a huge nose, etc. etc. etc. HOW do we get past that in America? We be more tolerant and treat people with respect and humanity. NOW, in sports, men who are not gay are quite a vocal group. I’m sorry-I do believe in our RIGHT to verbalize our Personal likes and dislikes. This can be done in a Humane and Sensitive way-it CAN be done without bashing. I personally do not like Flamboyant gays/lesbians. Therefore, I don’t engage in activities with them. I do not like individuals who are mean and make themselves feel better by bashing others. I don’t engage in activities with them either. That said, I feel that our Government-and certain Anti-organizations-have done their best to Bash Christians and push agendas that shouldn’t BE IN Government. A True Christian is trying to become more like Jesus-And His ministry was all about Love. We should not all be lumped into the Christians with a Self-Motive category. That is NOT all Christians. I believe that Marriage is and should be defined as a union between a man and a woman. I believe that gays/lesbians should be allowed to participate in a union that affords them all the rights of “marriage” but not be called “Marriage”. Sorry-I don’t see this as “separate but equal”. As a white person-married to a black person-I am treated equally within the black community BUT I am NOT afforded the same benefits as I would be were I black. So this “separate but equal” applies to MANY instances and is not challenged-BECAUSE this is an imperfect world and we must try to do our best to live within it and still maintain our own beliefs, behaviors, communities, etc. I Support loving humanity. I support treating people with respect. I just do not support a gay/lesbian union being CALLED Marriage. That has been defined by God as union between a man and a woman. I feel that the LGBT community has latched onto a Word that Has a Meaning as a “Showcase” action just to push their agenda to the forefront. Jesus said to Love one Another-not accept what they do that we personally don’t believe in. But we are commanded to Love. Just as a parent doesn’t condone their child becoming addicted to drugs-We still love them. These are my opinions and beliefs-I don’t force them on anyone.

  12. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Sometimes I wish I had a life.

  13. karmanot says:

    That works!

  14. karmanot says:

    I assume therefor your hetro lifestyle was a choice.

  15. karmanot says:

    Typical bigot reasoning.

  16. Thom Allen says:

    If Preifer made those comments, then I agree totally with Kluwe, he should never coach again. And I’ve never met Preifer, much less had a disagreement with him. I think that Preiffer should be called out for making remarks like those. It’s disappointing that none of the other players did so.

  17. met00 says:

    Based on my limited knowledge of football (I played in HS, Coach youth today and follow the NFL somewhat) I would agree that the termination/hire looks like nothing more than a simple business decision on the behalf of those managing the “money for player” If I could put myself in the financial management position, I would have made the same call. Same stats for about 45% of the money. Remember that most decisions on a football team are made for financial reasons first and foremost.

    Had they replaced a top line kicker with a lower qualified individual stats-wise I would lend a great deal more credence to the “I was fired because…”

    That said, as a coach I CONSTANTLY run into anti-gay comments on the field. And this is working in YOUTH football. When I hear it from a coach to a player I talk to the player and explain that the coach that used it is a neanderthal. When I see a youth using it I first pull aside the youth who it was used to, and explain that the other child didn’t know better, and then pull the one who used it aside and explain that what he did was wrong, and why. Why not tell the other adult coach that they are an asshole? Because it will do no good. They won’t suddenly become aware of their assholeness and change their ways, and I really don’t want to listen to their justification as to why they are assholes.

  18. Ninong says:

    Chris Kluwe was almost certainly fired because they could replace him with a rookie making less than one-third as much without taking a hit to the salary cap because Kluwe was in the final year of his contract. It was almost certainly true that special teams coach Mike Priefer and Chris Kluwe didn’t see eye to eye on Kluwe’s public advocacy of gay rights. No doubt Priefer made off-hand comments that were homophobic. That wouldn’t make him exceptional in the NFL.

    It’s almost certainly true that Priefer was all in favor of replacing Kluwe with the rookie (whose 2013 stats were almost as good as Kluwe’s 2012 stats) and happy to have the opportunity to influence that decision. Their strained personal relationship was almost certainly a factor, but probably not the main factor. We do know what the main factor was in Chris writing this op-ed because he told us so. “If there’s one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it’s to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level.”

    Chris Kluwe is a great guy. According to Chris, the owner of the Vikings is also a great guy when it comes to supporting gay rights. Team personnel decisions are almost always in the hands of team management, not ownership, except in the case of the Oakland Raiders when Al Davis was in charge.

    The Forty-Niners’ statement on Chris Culliver was appropriate. Culliver issued a public apology and a personal private apology to gay former Niners’ lineman Kwame Harris. No need to hate on the Niners, one of the most pro-gay NFL teams in the league, playing in the most pro-gay city in the country.

    According to Chris Kluwe, Mike Priefer is a typical bible-thumping homophobe who constantly made homophobic comments, usually, but not always, in a joking manner. Kluwe and Priefer do not share the same religious beliefs, nor the same respect for equal rights for all. That’s true of a lot of those hypocritical bible-thumpers. They are known for making homophobic comments, often in a joking manner. I suspect it’s because they realize they’re rapidly becoming a minority in this country.
    We know why Chris Kluwe wrote the op-ed because he told us. As far as the comments made by Mike Priefer, I choose to believe Chris Kluwe’s version of what was said over Mike Priefer’s denial.

  19. Claessens1 says:

    I never can understand how heterosexuals have “lives” and homosexuals have “lifestyles”.

  20. The_Fixer says:

    I certainly am not going to be taking advice from someone who does not have a grasp on the issue at hand.

    “Disagreeing with the homosexual lifestyle” is what gives away your ignorance. Living near the beach and surfing every day is a lifestyle. Homosexuality is an innate trait. Disagreeing with homosexuality is like disagreeing with someone who has red hair solely for the reason that they have red hair. It’s not something you can disagree with as it is something that simply happens as a result of nature.

    Come back and talk to us when you understand that distinction. In the meantime, spend your time educating yourself, this education is something you sorely need.

  21. The_Fixer says:

    Yes, do look at the stats.

    He was an above average punter – the best the Vikings had seen ever – who was asked to short-kick because their special teams coverage sucked.

    Your argument is invalid.

  22. Jay says:

    Perhaps. But this is not what Kluwe said. He was very specific. He was fired because the special teams coach Mike Prifer is a bigot and convinced the head coach and general manager, who he called cowards, to let him go. He said that the owner of the team was supportive. I hope that “management,” who may not have known of Prifer’s statement, will fire Prifer now that they know. But that was not Kluwe’s charge.

  23. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Or he’s two – two things in one.

  24. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    You won’t go into a meltdown at just the thought of sharing a locker room with one of us? You don’t even know the difference between a lifestyle and an orientation.

  25. itsjoe618 says:

    The “homosexual lifestyle” is a myth circulated by folks like you to validate their loathing of people you see at ‘the other.’ It’s almost as nonsensical as saying ‘I am opposed to the left handed life style.’ You may not be homophobic, but you are certainly an @sshole.

  26. Benz981 says:

    Being gay is not a “lifestyle,” nor are gay people simply “confused straight people.” If your solution to a “homosexual ‘lifestyle'” is for gay people to either pretend to like the opposite sex so you can be more comfortable, or refrain from any intimacy in their lives whatsoever because you think it’s “icky,” then you are indeed a homophobe.

  27. pericles9 says:

    Two men KISSING??? HORRORS!!!
    Two women kissing??? Hey, hey, hey!
    Locker-room mentality.

  28. ronbo says:

    Take that (il) logic and apply it to murder. Does an individual who wishes to murder have the same support of the law as someone wishing to live?

  29. ronbo says:

    Fear and Hate are intrinsically entwined. When was your sexuality a “lifestyle”? Join reality and accept what nature demands of every species. You may not understand why; but, that’s probably not unusual.

  30. Tony says:

    Branding those who hold opposing view points as homophobic is certainly not extending the tolerance you wish others to extend to you, Frankly, that’s quite hypocritical wouldn’t you say?

  31. Tony says:

    Drop the term ‘homophobic.’ A phobia is an irrational fear. Disagreeing with the homosexual lifestyle does not make you fearful of it.

  32. Thom Allen says:

    I agree. He could certainly just have bad mouthed those three. Instead, he essentially just gave a diary of events with little emotional overlay. Kluwe is a stand-up guy who looks like he got fired for being honest. He is a real class act. Maybe he’ll consider politics as a new career. He would be a breath of fresh air.

  33. HelenRainier says:

    Mike, same thing in Wisconsin. We have Madison and Milwaukee — the state Capitol and the state’s largest city that are primarily Democratic and the outlying areas tend towards Republican — or liberal and conservative.

  34. dula says:

    So the Vikings management created a hostile work environment and then fired an employee who spoke out about it. Isn’t there a lawsuit somewhere in this?

  35. The_Fixer says:

    Chris Kluwe’s version of the story seems to me to have the ring of truth. He could have dug in and said some really nasty things, but he really held back a bit and gave what I think is an honest appraisal of the situation.

    I read Mike Priefer’s statement on the matter, and it comes off as the usual thing that people say after being caught saying anti-gay things; “I have gay friends and family whom I love”, etc. Struck me as a canned statement concocted by a PR specialist.

    I wish him well in whatever comes his way next. I’m thankful for his activism, and sorry if that played a role in his dismissal. I still have great respect for him.

  36. devbost says:

    Frazier is expected to become the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator as early as tomorrow. We’ll see if Kluwe’s bombshell has any effect on that.

  37. Dakotahgeo says:

    You think the Vikings are bad… you should live in Missouri/Kansas with the KC Chumps/Chimps, whateva!

  38. Dakotahgeo says:

    And they wonder why humanity in general has such low regard for sports figures?! The day WILL come when people such as Frazier and Priefer will be anomalies in the soorts world and/or rampant homophobia will dealt with in the Courtrooms of the worlds’ nations, free speech be damned! I can hardly wait!

  39. Monoceros Forth says:

    It’s not like professional sports teams are very good at making a profit, usually…

  40. met00 says:

    Okay, let’s start with the fact that the Vikings don’t need a kicker for field goals because they can’t get past the 50 yard line without a QB (and they have none).

    I like Kluwe (disclaimer: he’s a local boy who did good for those of us in the “south of Long Beach” area). He is a better than average kicker in a field where there are a heck of a lot better than average kickers and many will work for a fraction of his salary. And that is the problem. The entire organization he was working for needs to re-organize and rebuild. That he would get the boot for someone who was drafted at about 1/2 his salary, but does about the same statistically as he dies says that the organization made a choice, but it appears that a big piece of that may have been financial in nature.

    This doesn’t mean that Kluwe is “wrong” or that his activism may have had something to do with his release. It’s may have been a factor. What has to be done in the organization now is that they have to rebuild it. That starts by getting in a new coaching staff with a plan, and then finding the talent to fill the positions on the field to start filling the holes in that plan.

    Kluwe can lower his financial requirements and may be able to get another position on another team. Or he can keep his salary demands high and take his chances in a position where he is just another slightly above average kicker competing with a bunch of other just above average kickers that just graduated and want a chance in the NFL.

    As for the Vikings. They need to do what was done with Aikman when he went pro. The Cowboys told him that he would spend the first three seasons looking through the hole in the roof after every play, but by season four he would be playing in the Superbowl.They were good to their word. Aikman was the key piece that they built the team around, and it took three years. Marrino never actually got the team built around him, so one of the best QB’s of his generation never had a chance because the management sucked (and he had one of the better head coaches in the league). It took Elway most of his career to see a team built around him. Montana and then Young were able to get teams that were built around them, and stayed built (it helps when you have Rathman and Craig in the backfield (both of whom could catch) and a Rice in the pattern) for a number of years. So, if the Vikings are smart, they will replace their coaching staff with one that all seems to be on the same playbook. They will reduce their overhead costs and start a rebuilding process with the goal to be in a Superbowl in four years. Oh, and the Vikings are known for screwing up their talent, just ask Fran Tarkington (my childhood hero QB-wise).

    [Yeah, I am a football geek – kindof. I wish there were more Kluwe’s in professional sports, but the reality is that unless you can kick 50+ accurate and often you are “average” in today’s NFL. And there are a bunch of hungry college kickers graduating every year who can do the 40-45 range with regularity and are all willing to work for far less than Kluwe. Could his homophobic and bigoted coaches be responsible for his release? May be, but more than that I would say that his salary and the fact that in the job he was “average” was a far greater factor.]

  41. nicho says:

    No, just someone who sits on the couch, drinks beer, and springs a little wood watching guys smash each other in the head.

  42. nicho says:

    If management doesn’t support his statement, it should fire him. If they don’t, they support him. Imagine if he had said Christians or Jews should be murdered. He would have been out of there in about four milliseconds. So, we can conclude that management had no problem with his hate speech.

  43. nicho says:

    Funny how Issa’s name is usually associated with “shit storm.”

  44. Naja pallida says:

    They’re 501(c)6, along with other entities like the US Chamber of Commerce. It’s a staggeringly stupid non-profit classification that has been wholeheartedly abused by for-profit and political lobbying entities. The entire 501 section of non-profit classification needs a serious flush out. There’s far too much corruption and rot within the loose legal wording in the current code, and the IRS has no real authority to question anything these groups claim about their status. Remember the manufactured shit storm when Darrell Issa learned that some conservative lobbying groups were investigated by the IRS a couple years ago?

  45. Monoceros Forth says:

    Why are you calling yourself a “footballer”? Are you a soccer fan?

  46. Jay says:

    Your headline is grossly misleading. It wasn’t Viking’s “management” who was the bigot; it was a coach. Kluwe describes the head coach and general manager as cowards, but not bigots, and the owner as supportive. You should change the headline to be in sync with the story.

  47. nicho says:

    Yeah, whatever. The NFL is just another fascist organization.

  48. libsechumanist says:

    “Many” people – yep, a few million of us who defeated the anti-gay marriage amendment and less than a year later, made Marriage Equality the law of the state. Saying we ‘imagine’ ourselves to be ‘Liberal if not Progressive’ based on a bigoted coach I’ve never heard of is extremely narrow-minded of you, Indigo. That coach is judging a group of people he doesn’t know and you’re doing the same thing. We have a few whackos like Bachmann and that coach (who probably wasn’t raised here, btw) just like anywhere else, but I’ll be damned that I’ll let your statement go unchallenged. The coach needs to thrown out on his ass and the NFL can be disbanded.

  49. Footballer says:

    Nfl players don’t get “fired”. Kluwe was released because he sucked. Look at the stats.

  50. bkmn says:

    Going out on a limb here, but I don’t think Mike Prieffer is still on the short list of candidates to be the next head coach.

  51. cole3244 says:

    i heard coach frazier was a very religious man, now i know that’s true.
    did you know that the nfl is considered a non profit entity, hows that for protecting the 1% at the expense of the 99%.

  52. nicho says:

    I still can’t figure out why an organization that makes billions of dollars a year is considered non profit. I belong to a non-profit group and the IRS watches us like a hawk.

  53. Monoceros Forth says:

    Jeez, the overpaid coach of an overpaid team playing a wussified version of rugby wants everyone to know he’s a manly man. What else is new?

  54. bkmn says:

    As a Minnesota resident I am frankly pissed that my tax dollars are going to pay for about half of the new Vikings stadium. No team that plays in public facilities should have someone with this vile of an attitude on their payroll.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Whitewitch that the tax exempt status of the NFL should be the next thing to go.

  55. ckg1 says:

    I think it’s more due to the fact that the Vikings stink than Frazier’s actions.

  56. Whitewitch says:

    That is why the NFL should be taxed and its Non-profit status revoked (they are part of the NFL yes – can you tell I am not a sports person ::giggle::.

  57. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    You feel it’s not. Why? True, we have Michelle Bachmann, but we also have Keith Ellison. Check his record. Things are quite different between the cities and outstate. Although, there are many centers of progressive thinking outstate, such as the Iron Range.

  58. Indigo says:

    Minnesota, where many people imagine themselves to be liberal if not progressive. Uh-huh.

  59. Naja pallida says:

    No irony there, considering in the Viking raiding age, raping one’s defeated foes – both male and female – was considered a good way of making them compliant and submissive. And while being a bottom (more, being submissive in any way) was considered to be against Viking beliefs, being a top was perfectly acceptable. Maybe that’s why they’re so angry. If you have a whole team of tops, its hard for anybody to be happy. :)

  60. Straightnotnarrow says:

    Frazier doesn’t have a job right now. Good riddance.

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