Take Kluwe’s charge seriouslyPublished 9:54am Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Editor’s note: This letter was sent to Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.
I am writing regarding the account from former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe about his perception of events that occurred prior to his dismissal from the team. As you are aware, Mr. Kluwe has said he strongly believes his termination was directly related to his willingness to be an advocate for freedom and equality for LGBT people. He also made alarming charges about specific incidents and a potentially discriminatory culture within the Vikings coaching staff.
While I am somewhat encouraged by the team’s statement in response to the accusations; these charges require more than a cursory investigation. I was also encouraged by the team’s announcement that former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Chris Madel of the Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi firm have been hired by the Vikings and that the investigation is being characterized as comprehensive and independent. I know Eric Magnuson personally and am aware that he was an active leader and supporter of our successful defeat of the anti-marriage amendment in 2012.
As the most popular sports league in America, the NFL has a huge influence on the attitudes of our society, especially young people. A failure to condemn discriminatory values by employees or remaining silent to claims of intolerance sends a signal not only to your own players and employees, but to all Americans, that such behavior is acceptable or condoned.
Minnesotans are not only lifelong fans of the Vikings, its taxpayers are also business partners with the franchise. Because Minnesotans gave the Vikings a half-billion dollars for its new stadium, it is incumbent upon your organization to uphold the same values for fairness, tolerance, and equality that we hold dear in our state.
I appreciated learning of your support for marriage equality, and I applaud the amazing efforts that you, your wife and the Wilf Family Foundation have done with Garden State Equality to work to end anti-gay bullying in New Jersey. In that same vein, a failure to fully investigate intolerance at the Vikings sends a message to LGBT kids and the community at large that equality and diversity are not values that we cherish in this state. It would also communicate to kids who look up to football players and coaches – especially kids who are bullied – a very damaging message that can lead to very terrible consequences.
Likewise, it is important for you to know how much Chris Kluwe was appreciated for his candor, his humor and his courage in stepping up during an important moment in our state’s and country’s history. If his perception of events are upheld, it would be a shame to fail to rectify what would amount to a grave injustice. Again, a negative message would be sent about what it means to stand up and speak out.
Vikings fans and the entire state are closely watching how you will be investigating this matter and we expect a thorough and public review of these accusations. I trust you will speak up for the values that are so important to Minnesotans and I look forward to learning how you will instill those principles across the Vikings franchise.
Thank you very much for your prompt attention to this very important issue.
D. Scott Dibble
state senator District 61