Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe believes the team released him because of his public activism for same-sex marriage.
Kluwe explains his feelings in an article on Deadspin.
The punter says that he does not know for sure if his activism was the reason he lost his job. But, he writes, "I'm pretty confident it was."
During the summer of 2012, Kluwe worked with Minnesotans for Marriage Equality, a group fighting to defeat a state amendment defining marriage as "only a union of one man and one woman." In September of 2012, Kluwe publicly defended Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo. The linebacker had spoken out in favor of a ballot that would legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland.
Kluwe said that those events led to a series of discussions with his head coach, Leslie Frazier. It also led to confrontations with special teams coordinator Mike Priefer.
The punter writes that he believes that Priefer is a homophobic man and says, "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."
He also calls Frazier and Vikings GM Rick Spielman cowards.
The Vikings released a statement. They say they will "thoroughly review this matter." But, in the same statement, they also deny Kluwe's claim. "Any notion that Chris was released from our football team due to his stance on marriage equality is entirely inaccurate and inconsistent with team policy. Chris was released strictly based on his football performance."
Priefer also "vehemently" denies Kluwe's claims. He released a statement to the Star Tribune.