Chris Kluwe plans to sue the Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings have a lot of explaining to do, according to Chris Kluwe, the NFL team’s ex-punter, who announced today at a news conference that he plans to sue the organization for religious discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, defamation and torturous interference, according to reports.

“We would like to resolve this out of court if we can,” Kluwe’s team said, reportsto USA Today NFL writer Tom Pelissero, who also noted via Twitter that Kluwe and his lawyer Clayton Halunen painted the lawsuit as a means of getting the Vikings to release its investigative report that it completed after Kluwe accused the team of firing him in part for his pro-gay rights activism.

Kluwe’s allegations were first made public when he penned a Jan. 2 article, “I Was an NFL Player Until I Was Fired by Two Cowards and a Bigot,” for Deadspin. In it, Kluwe says he was told by former coach Leslie Frazier to “be quiet” and “stop speaking out” on marriage equality. Kluwe also accused special teams coordinator Mike Preifer of using homophobic languages around him, including once uttering the sentence, “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.”

In response, the Vikings undertook an investigation to look into the matter, which was supposedly completed today, but not made public — something the organization said it would do, according to Kluwe (via NBC Sports).

At the news conference, Halunen said he had been meeting with the Vikings’ legal team over the past six months and learning about the reports findings, including that some of Kluwe’s accusations were corroborated by witnesses, USA Today reports.

The Vikings, however, claimed in a statement released today that they did not break any promises to Kluwe or the public. The statement reads:

Since Chris Kluwe’s allegations first appeared in Deadspin on January 2, 2014, the Minnesota Vikings have taken them very seriously, which is why the team immediately retained former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Chris Madel, two partners of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P. (RKMC), to perform an independent review of these allegations.

Magnuson, Madel and others spent nearly six months conducting an exhaustive investigation. After the Vikings were given the investigative materials from Magnuson and Madel, in order to further maintain objectivity and integrity, the team engaged a nationally-prominent law firm – Littler Mendelson P.C. – to evaluate employment law matters and provide findings and recommendations to the Vikings. Those recommendations are to be provided to the team this week.

As Magnuson and Madel confirmed today, the Vikings have never made or broken promises as Kluwe and his attorney Clayton Halunen have claimed. The Vikings have also never engaged in the various comments that Kluwe and Halunen have provided to the media over the past six months. This Thursday, July 17, the team has a meeting scheduled between Halunen and Vikings attorneys to discuss next steps.

As we have consistently communicated throughout this process, the Vikings will have further comment when the investigation is entirely complete and the team has made determinations on next steps.

Kluwe does not want to wait anymore, however, which is why he called a news conference at noon Tuesday to discuss his next steps, which included the announcement of the lawsuit. The Vikings have yet to respond, but have continued to maintain Kluwe was fired because of football-related issues only.

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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