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Vikings retain counsel to investigate claims
Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf
The Associated Press
Posted Jan 3, 2014
The Vikings have hired a former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and a former U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney to lead an investigation into the allegations of former punter Chris Kluwe.
The Minnesota Vikings have retained a former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and a former federal trial attorney to conduct an investigation into Chris Kluwe’s allegations that he was released from the team due to his support of gay marriage.
Former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson and former Justice Department attorney Chris Madel will lead the investigation.
“It is extremely important for the Vikings organization to react immediately and comprehensively with an independent review of these allegations,” team President Mark Wilf said in a statement Friday, one day after Kluwe penned an article alleging that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer made anti-gay comments during team meetings.
Priefer denied Kluwe’s allegations, and the Vikings said they take the matter “very seriously.”
Magnuson and Madel now work at Robins, Kaplan, Ciresi and Miller. The Vikings said the investigation is already underway and interviews are being conducted with current and former members of the organization.
Kluwe said that he is pleased to see the team is taking the matter seriously and he looked forward to cooperating with the investigation. Several players have come out in support of Priefer, but Kluwe did say that he has witnesses who will corroborate his claims. He reiterated his hope that bringing this issue to light would discourage the Vikings or other teams from employing Priefer.
“I made some very serious statements and I do have the evidence to back them up,” Kluwe said on Friday in a phone interview. “I don’t think he’s a good role model.”
Kluwe was cut by the Vikings in May after eight seasons in Minnesota. He lost a competition for a job in Oakland in the preseason. When he couldn’t catch on with a team during the season despite several tryouts, he said he believed that teams were turned off by his outspoken nature.
“I could still punt the ball 45 yards outside the numbers with decent hang time,” Kluwe said. “When I continued to do that and still wasn’t getting a job, you had to think that people were looking at what he would say on Twitter.”
Kluwe has been outspoken on a number of topics, including supporting gay marriage, criticizing the Catholic church and stumping for Ray Guy to make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He said he decided to bring his concerns with Priefer, former head coach Leslie Frazier and Vikings GM Rick Spielman to light now in hopes of “getting them to take a look at themselves and examine who they are as individuals.”
Madel has previously worked with the Vikings before, in 2003, when he investigated a team fundraiser that included allegations of sexual assault.
“This is a highly sensitive matter that we as an organization will address with integrity,” Vikings vice president of legal affairs Kevin Warren said in a statement. “Eric and Chris have stellar reputations in both the local and national legal community. They have handled numerous cases involving a wide range of issues, and we are confident they will move swiftly and fairly in completing this investigation.”
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