Vikings Release Results Of Kluwe Investigation, Suspend Mike Priefer

In the very rare Friday evening news dump, the Vikings have released a report on an independent investigation into claims made by former punter Chris Kluwe in this Deadspin column. The investigation confirmed that special teams coach Mike Priefer made one anti-gay remark—for which Priefer has been suspended three games—but it rejected Kluwe's belief that the Vikings cut him in part because of his activism.

The full investigation has not been made public, but a 29-page report on its findings, provided by a law firm hired by the Vikings, can be read below. It found support for the Vikings' claim that Kluwe's release was a decision made based on his punting skills and salary. It does note multiple instances of teammates and coaches telling Kluwe to chill out with his extracurriculars, but because his advocacy was a general "distraction," not specifically because he was advocating for pro-gay causes.

The record supports the conclusion that players and management were concerned about the distraction that Kluwe's activism was creating, as opposed to the nature and content of his activism. The record does not support the contention that members of management and the coaching staff were focused on discouraging Kluwe based on the nature of his activism.

Investigators did find corroboration that Priefer said something along the lines of "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."

In his first meeting with investigators, Priefer denied making the comment. But long snapper Cullen Loeffler told them he recalled Priefer making the statement "after becoming frustrated that Loeffler and Kluwe were not focused on football during practice." Upon being confronted with Loeffler's confirmation, Priefer said, "If [Loeffler] remembers me saying something on the practice field, I am not going to disagree with it."

Upon the release of the findings tonight, the Vikings announced that Priefer will serve a three-game suspension that could be reduced to two if he attends sensitivity training.

The investigation contains a lengthy section on Kluwe's numbers in an attempt to gauge the state of his punting prowess. (Though, as explained here, it's hard to statistically evaluate a punter.) It also passes along quotes from interviews with Vikings coaches and personnel, who unanimously recommended releasing Kluwe. The report also contains this fairly ruthless burn:

There is consistent and weighty evidence from the record, mostly from Kluwe himself, that he viewed his performance as a member of the Vikings in an inflated manner. For instance, Kluwe, in at least one article, described himself as a very good punter.

The report mostly clears the Vikings of any charges that they have problems on an organizational level. "There was ... very limited evidence supporting the existence of a hostile work environment based on sexual orientation or support of marriage equality," investigators found.

Further: "We did not find any support for the contention that the Vikings lacked institutional controls with respect to its workplace environment as it relates to homophobia. ... Other than the statement made by Priefer, the record is devoid of any support for the contention that the Vikings harbored a homophobic hostile work environment."

In the report's conclusion, it restates the investigators' findings that the Vikings were at times uncomfortable with Kluwe's very visible advocacy, but that his release was on the up-and-up.

We also did not find sufficient evidence to establish that members of the Vikings organization attempted to discourage Kluwe from engaging in marriage equality or equal rights activism or that the Vikings harbored a homophobic hostile work environment. The record does, however, support the conclusion that the distractions caused by the level, but not the nature, of Kluwe's activism did create some discomfort in the organization during the 2012 season in which Kluwe's punting performance was unsatisfactory to the team. The investigation materials support that the Vikings released Kluwe for football performance reasons and not his views on marriage equality.

Kluwe is vehemently disputing some of the findings of the report, and has vowed to follow through with his threat of a lawsuit.

Here's the full report on the findings of the investigation.