The investigation into Mike Priefer’s alleged homophobic remarks continues in the background of the offseason, buzzing annoyingly away behind all the positivity engendered by the hiring of Mike Zimmer.
Saturday brings new developments in the case. Chris Kluwe’s lawyer Clayton Halunen has named Viking players who Kluwe says were witnesses to Priefer’s remarks. Among these witnesses are kicker Blair Walsh and long snapper Cullen Loeffler.
Halunen also says Kluwe made the Vikings aware of Priefer’s remarks before his release in early 2013, mentioning the incidents to Vikings director of player personnel Les Pico.
Walsh is in a particular pickle here given the vehemence with which he defended Mike Priefer after Kluwe’s accusations were made public. “I have had countless conversations and interactions with Coach Priefer, and I personally can attest to his integrity and character,” Walsh said. “His professionalism in the workplace is exemplary, and I firmly believe that my teammates would whole-heartedly agree. The allegations made today are reprehensible and totally not compatible with what Mike Priefer stands for.”
Nowhere in Walsh’s statement does he specifically refer to Kluwe’s accusations of homophobic remarks, which gives him wiggle room if he decides to reverse course and admit to having heard said remarks. He can always say the “reprehensible allegations” statement referred only to Kluwe’s accusations of improper termination and not to any specific words that left Priefer’s lips.
Halunen says Kluwe has text messages from Walsh that prove Walsh was aware of Priefer’s words, specifically his remarks about “sending gays to an island and nuking it till they glow.”
“If Walsh is going to lie, this will all be exposed, I’m confident,” Halunen said. “If Walsh is going to lie, that’s his choice. But at the end of the day, we believe this is going to come out. We have evidence. So he made that choice, I guess.”
The lawyer says he believes the Vikings will ultimately attempt to write off Priefer’s words as a joke. This in my humble opinion would be a stupefyingly bad PR move give the current climate of sensitivity.
Reports say Mike Priefer is under consideration to be retained by the Vikings as special teams coach. Kluwe initially said he wanted to see Priefer fired, but backed off from that stance later, saying he wished for Priefer to mend his ways and keep on coaching instead.