Football / Sports

Chris Kluwe, Vikings finalize settlement to avert lawsuit

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Vikings and their outspoken former punter, Chris Kluwe, have settled their differences after a seven-month battle.

Under the terms of the settlement, the Vikings will donate an undisclosed amount to five charities over the next five years to benefit LGBT and anti-hate groups, and will sponsor a fundraiser.

Kluwe said he did not receive any money from the Vikings in the settlement.

"This will help a lot of people that really need that help," Kluwe said at a Tuesday news conference. "I think the Vikings are committed to making changes. I think they're committed on this issue in the NFL, and I think it will make a difference over the upcoming year."

Kluwe, in a January online article at deadspin.com, accused special teams coach Mike Priefer of saying, "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."

The Vikings launched an independent investigation, but did not release the 150-page report when the investigation ended in June; instead, they issued a 29-page summary in which Priefer admitted the statement, saying it was "a joke between three men."

Kluwe and his attorney, Clayton Halunen, last month threatened a lawsuit to force the release of the entire report. As part of the settlement the report will not be released.

Halunen said he was provided access to the full report with a concern that there was a systematic discrimination in the organization left out of the summary.

"After we had a chance to review it, we found out there was nothing there," Halunen said. "We're satisfied with what we're provided and that there is no issue."

The Vikings also said they would enhance sensitivity training throughout the organization and will enforce a zero tolerance policy for any discrimination in its club code of conduct. The Vikings also agreed to sponsor a national symposium in Minneapolis involving LGBT leaders and professional athletes this spring.

"What we're doing now is breaking it up into four different seminars," said Kevin Warren, Vikings executive vice president of legal affairs. "We'll have players, coaches and staff people so that we can make sure that the training that we do is much more focused for that individual group. ... We just want to continually enhance what we've already been doing to improve what we've already been doing to make sure we're doing the proper training to help educate our organization."

Priefer will be suspended for the first three games of the regular season, which could be reduced to two games at the team's discretion if he completes sensitivity training.

"We appreciate Chris Kluwe's contributions to the Minnesota Vikings as a player and a member of this organization during his eight seasons in which he established many team records as our punter, and we wish him and his family the best in the future," Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said in a statement. "In regards to this matter, our focus remains on maintaining a culture of tolerance, inclusion and respect, and creating the best workplace environment for our players, coaches and staff."

Kluwe said Priefer made the statement late in the 2012 season, and Kluwe was cut before the 2013 season. He briefly latched on with Oakland, which cut him before the regular season started.

After not playing in the NFL in 2013, he wrote the deadspin.com piece in January.

He has also written a book, "Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies."

On his Twitter account (@ChrisWarcraft), Kluwe said the three key points of the settlement were: "The Vikings will be working to create a symposium to bring together sports and LBGTQ leaders in order to address this issue in sports; they are implementing enhanced training within the entire organization, and are committed to a zero tolerance policy on homophobia; they will donate a substantial amount to five charities, several MN local, over the next five years.

"We've chosen to help those who need it, in a way that hopefully will set an example moving forward for others to follow," he wrote. "Looking forward to seeing the strides the Vikings and the rest of the NFL will make on homophobia going forward. Still work to be done."

(c)2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


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