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Vikings: Chris Kluwe released strictly based on football performance

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Chris Kluwe wrote Thursday that he may have been released for his oustpoken beliefs. (USATSI)
Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe blasted the organization Thursday, writing for Deadspin that he believes he was "fired by two cowards and a bigot" in May 2013 because he was outspoken marriage equality.

Specifically, Kluwe pointed the finger at then-coach Leslie Frazier, general manager Rick Spielman and special teams coach Mike Priefer, even though Vikings owner Zygi Wilf fully supported Kluwe's stance.

Hours later, the Vikings released a statement regarding Kluwe's remarks.

"The Minnesota Vikings were made aware of Chris Kluwe's allegations for the first time today. We take them very seriously and will thoroughly review this matter.

"As an organization, the Vikings consistently strive to create a supportive, respectful and accepting environment for all of our players, coaches and front office personnel. We do not tolerate discrimination at any level. The team has long respected our players' and associates' individual rights, and, as Chris specifically stated, Vikings ownership supports and promotes tolerance, including on the subject of marriage equality. Because he was identified with the Vikings, Chris was asked to be respectful while expressing his opinions. Team ownership and management also repeatedly emphasized to Chris that the Vikings would not impinge on his right to express his views.

"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. We will have further comment at the appropriate time."

Kluwe felt differently, writing earlier Thursday, "I honestly don't know if my activism was the reason I got fired. However, I'm pretty confident it was."

Ultimately, Kluwe told his story to bring to light Priefer's allegedly intolerant views. (Kluwe claimed that Priefer used homophobic language only after the punter began to speak out on equality issues).

"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," Kluwe wrote. ... "It's inexcusable that someone would use his status as a teacher and a role model to proselytize on behalf of his own doctrine of intolerance, and I hope he never gets another opportunity to pass his example along to anyone else."

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