The current Chris Kluwe controversy — in which the former Vikings punter accuses the Vikings special teams coordinator of making violently anti-gay remarks and of having him cut for his political activism — is deceptively complex.
Even though Leslie Frazier has been removed as head coach (and quickly landed the defensive coordinator’s job with Tampa Bay), the assistant coach in question, Mike Priefer, remains with the team. Indeed, at least before Kluwe took his version of the story public, Priefer was regarded as a potential successor to Frazier.
Kluwe’s bombshell piece, published last week on the Deadspin website and quickly the most-read piece in the site’s history, brought a denial from the coach and a well-publicized hiring by the team of two prominent lawyers to look into the matter.
Hiring the likes of Eric Magnuson (former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court) and Chris Madel (former U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney) does not come cheap, and certainly suggests the team’s ownership takes Kluwe’s accusations seriously.
At the same time, Magnuson and Madel don’t have subpoena power. And it is quite possible that the investigation will be inconclusive. But the Vikings should be credited nonetheless for addressing the issue with top notch investigators who will likely make their conclusions, whatever they may be, with a certain amount of credibility.
Launching their own internal investigation will probably save the Vikings from the kind of league-run probe that is dragging on with the Miami Dolphins in the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal.
It is possible to construct a football-only rationale for the Vikings release of Kluwe after the 2012 season. It is also likely that Kluwe’s political activism played a role not only with the Vikings cutting him, but with his inability to land another punting job.