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.”
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.