Chris Kluwe, Vikings reach settlement over punter's pro-LGBT remarks

The Minnesota Vikings and former punter Chris Kluwe  have reached a settlement averting a lawsuit over Kluwe's claim that the team wrongfully released him last year because of his outspoken support for same-sex marriage rights.Under the deal, the Vikings will donate an undisclosed sum of money to five gay rights-related charities over the next five years.

Elizabeth Flores/The Star Tribune/AP/File
Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, right, speaks during a press conference in Minneapolis. Kluwe says he's reached a settlement with the team to avert a threatened lawsuit over his release. Kluwe had accused the Vikings of cutting him over his activism on gay rights issues. He said Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, that the Vikings have agreed to donate to several nonprofits to help raise awareness in professional sports about LGBT issues.

The Minnesota Vikings and former punter Chris Kluwe said Tuesday they reached a settlement averting a lawsuit over Kluwe's claim that the team wrongfully released him last year because of his outspoken support for same-sex marriage rights.

Under the deal, the Vikings will donate an undisclosed sum of money to five gay rights-related charities over the next five years. Kluwesaid he won't receive any money as part of the settlement.

"This will help a lot of people that really do need that help," Kluwe said. He said he was convinced the Vikings and owners Zygi and Mark Wilf were committed to the cause, and committed to being leaders on this issue in the NFL.

"They want to make this a reality where there is no discrimination in sports, there is no homophobia," Kluwe said at a news conference.

The Vikings said in a statement that the deal resolves all issues related to Kluwe's departure from the team and his accusations that a coach made anti-gay comments. Zygi Wilf said he wished Kluwe the best.

"In regards to this matter, our focus remains on maintaining a culture of tolerance, inclusion and respect, and creating the best workplace environment for our players, coaches and staff," Wilf said in the statement.

Under the settlement, the Vikings also agreed to require all team employees to undergo sensitivity training four times a year. The team will also host a national symposium in Minneapolis next spring that will address LGBT issues and professional athletics, said Kluwe's attorney, Clayton Halunen.

In addition to his wrongful termination claim, Kluwe alleged that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer made anti-gay comments and tried to agitate him with homophobic language. Last month, the team issued a 29-page summary of a report that found no merit to Kluwe's claim that he was wrongfully dismissed, but it confirmed that Priefer made anti-gay remarks during practice. The Vikings suspended Priefer for three games and ordered him to undergo sensitivity training.

Kluwe threatened to sue the team if it didn't release the full 150-page report, but Halunen said Tuesday that the Vikings had done a thorough investigation into Kluwe's allegations. Halunen said he and Kluwe had initially pushed for the report's release out of concern that there may have been a systemic problem within the organization, but they viewed the full report as part of mediation and are satisfied there are no widespread issues.

Halunen identified two of the five nonprofits as the Matthew Shepard Foundation and You Can Play, a charity run by retired NFL player Wade Davis, who is gay. Both focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. He did not disclose the names of the other charities, saying they hadn't been notified yet.

He said the financial terms weren't disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement, adding: "This is a substantial commitment to LGBT causes."

Kluwe averaged 44.4 yards per punt over his eight-season career in Minnesota, including a career-high 39.7 yard net average in 2012. But he ranked just 17th in the NFL in punting that season before he was cut. He hasn't gotten a kicking job elsewhere since his release. He said Tuesday he is considering writing a book and pursuing public speaking opportunities.

Kluwe said taking a stand was worth it.

"It's always worth it," he said. "You have a children's game, and you have basic human rights. And there's one of those I'm always going to value more than the other."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.