The Minnesota Vikings and outspoken LGBT ally Chris Kluwe have reached a settlement that would end the threat of a lawsuit over Kluwe’s release from the team, according to Kluwe’s lawyer. The suit would have alleged religious discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, defamation, and tortious interference with contractual obligations, which Kluwe’s legal team attests resulted in his release from the Vikings in May 2013.
In an article for Deadspin early this year, Kluwe cited multiple instances of intolerant language by special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, after Kluwe publically voiced his support for gay marriage and fellow ally Brendon Ayanbadejo.
Kluwe’s lawyer, Clayton Halunen, released a statement about the settlement, saying, "The parties intend to hold a joint press conference early next week to make public the terms of a settlement arrived at late last night.” Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson, however, has not confirmed the settlement and insists that nothing is finalized.
Kluwe maintained in a January Deadspin letter that Priefer continually made hateful and inappropriate remarks about LGBT people, saying, “I felt uncomfortable each time Mike Priefer said these things. After all, he was directly responsible for reviewing my job performance, but I hoped that after the vote concluded in Minnesota his behavior would taper off and eventually stop.”
Priefer will serve a three-game suspension to start the 2014 NFL season and has pledged $100,000 to LGBT rights charitable and educational organizations. With the completion of antiharassment, diversity, and sexual orientation sensitivity training, his suspension may be reduced.
The Vikings insist Kluwe was terminated solely on the basis of performance, while Kluwe has since defended his performance in the 2012 season, saying, “My gross average in 2012 was almost exactly my career average, and I had a career-best net average. Statistically speaking, I am also the best punter in Vikings history, despite seven years of coaches asking me to deliberately sacrifice my own numbers to help the team, a request with which I always complied.”