The Minnesota Vikings have hired two high-profile lawyers to investigate claims by a former player that he was cut from the team because of his advocacy for same-sex marriage.
Former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson and ex-U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney Chris Madel will lead the investigation, which has already begun, the Vikings said in a statement Friday.
The move comes a day after former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe said the team booted him over his support of same-sex marriage rights. In an essay published on the Deadspin website, Kluwe called Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer "a bigot who didn't agree with the cause I was working for."
He also accused Priefer of saying, "We should round up all the gays and ship them off to an island and nuke it till it glows."
Kluwe also described Head Coach Leslie Frazier and General Manager Rick Spielman as "cowards ... who lacked the fortitude to disagree with Mike Priefer on a touchy subject matter."
Priefer has denied making the statements and the team has said Kluwe was not cut for his same-sex marriage beliefs.
Still, "it is extremely important for the Vikings organization to react immediately and comprehensively with an independent review of these allegations," Vikings President Mark Wilf said in a statement.
The team placed no timetable on the inquiry but expressed confidence it would move swiftly and fairly. The investigation will include interviews with current and former members of the Vikings organization.
Earlier on Friday, Kluwe said he hoped to be sued for alleging that his former boss is a bigot.
Priefer "has the world's easiest case for slander," Kluwe said on The Daily Circuit.
When host Tom Weber asked Kluwe whether he expected to be sued, he replied: "I certainly hope so, because then we can have our day in court ... we'll see who's right and who's wrong." He suggested that he wouldn't have written what he did without witnesses to back him up.
If Priefer wants to disprove the allegations, Kluwe said, "he can have his day in court and we'll discover what we discover. Because obviously if I say these things and they're not true, that's very much lawsuit-worthy."
Weber asked whether Kluwe might file a lawsuit himself.
"I would prefer not to," he said, "because despite everything that happened, I loved playing for the team. I had a lot of friends there, I still do have a lot of friends there. ... I would prefer not to drag the organization into it. My quarrel is with three very specific people within that the organization."
He added, though, that if the organization tries to sweep his charges under the rug, "then I really don't have much recourse but to take it to the courts."
The day Kluwe's Deadspin piece came out, the Vikings released a statement saying "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."
Priefer also released a statement, in which he "vehemently" denied Kluwe's allegations.
"I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals. I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member," he said in the statement. "As a coach, I have always created an accepting environment for my players, including Chris, and have looked to support them both on and off the field."