Priefer just ‘focused on football’ amid investigation, allegations
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The investigation into Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Priefer’s alleged homophobic comments has been ongoing for months, and the findings are expected to be released soon.
Meanwhile, Priefer is just going about his job as Minnesota’s special teams coordinator and focused on a team which has undergone several changes to the coaching staff, all while leaving Priefer as one of the few coaches retained by new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.
Speaking to the media Wednesday for the first time since denying former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s claims earlier this year, Priefer was asked about his approach with the investigation still ongoing.
"It’s been one of those things, I come to work every morning, I’m excited about the direction of this football team," Priefer said. "I really like our coaching staff. I’m excited about our new players. I’m excited about the guys we retained, that came back. So, my focus has been totally on football."
Kluwe, who was released last May for what he believes was partially his public outspokenness on gay rights, accused Priefer of bigotry in January in a strongly worded letter for Deadspin. In the letter, Kluwe accused Priefer of homophobic slurs and wanted to ensure that Priefer didn’t continue to work in the NFL.
The team, through an independent counsel, is investigating those claims, which Priefer has "vehemently" denied.
Kluwe has threated a lawsuit against the team for wrongful termination if Priefer remains on staff.
"Just waiting to see what the investigation concludes with," Kluwe told FOXSportsNorth.com in February. "Up until that point, it’s just waiting." But the investigation has been stalled, reportedly with one person of interest refusing to cooperate.
Chris Madel, part of the independent counsel conducting the investigation, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press an individual he wouldn’t name was withholding information.
"If that person gave us an interview tomorrow, then we could have the report in less than two weeks," Madel told the paper in May. "That person to date has not been cooperative. There have been delays in the investigation due to some people refusing to be interviewed that were subsequently interviewed."
Priefer has been with the Vikings for three seasons, the first three working with Kluwe. Kluwe is first in Minnesota history with a 44.4-yard gross punting average and second in net average with 37.2 yards per punt, while ranking second for most punts all-time in team history.
But the Vikings drafted Jeff Locke in the fifth round of last year’s NFL Draft and eventually released Kluwe, who has been out of the league since being cut by the Oakland Raiders during the preseason last year.
Preifer was one of seven coaches retained when Zimmer replaced Leslie Frazier in January.
"Excited about where this team is headed," Priefer said in his opening remarks Wednesday. "Really excited about the coaching staff we have from the head coach on down. His focus is being team, which has obviously been part of my philosophy my whole career. We’ve got a great bunch of teachers, including my assistant, Ryan Ficken, who does a phenomenal job for me. It’s his second year working with me and he’s become very integrated into the special teams, become a very good football coach. I’m excited where we’re headed. I’m excited about our new players, our veteran guys that came back, and we’re ready to roll."
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