Smith defends Priefer, calls Kluwe's allegations a 'shame'


The reaction to former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe's allegations against Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer continue to flow in, with the latest coming from safety Harrison Smith.

Kluwe called Priefer a "bigot" in a Deadspin article, saying he had a differing viewpoint on same-sex marriage (Kluwe supports same-sex marriage), which he believes is part of the reason he was released last offseason.

The Vikings have started an independent review of Kluwe's claims, the team announced Friday.

Smith says he never heard Priefer criticize Kluwe or his views, according to the Pioneer Press.

"In my experience with Coach Priefer, he has been nothing but a classy guy," Smith said. "He's been respectful for everybody's views, whether you're black, white, Mexican, any religion. ... I just think it's a shame to take a shot at a guy when he can't defend himself.

"I just don't think it's very fair that you can say whatever you want that somebody said something to you and you don't really have any person to back it up. I don't think that's good. I just think it's a slippery slope."

Kluwe hasn't revealed which of his former teammates were in the meetings with him, but current Vikings kicker Blair Walsh was, and he said Priefer "promoted a workplace environment that was conducive for success," as reported by the Star Tribune.

Smith seconded Walsh's viewpoint.

"Coach Priefer was a respectful guy in the meetings, and that's all I experienced," Smith said. "I wasn't in every meeting with Coach Priefer and Chris Kluwe, but I think Blair Walsh sat in on those (other) meetings, and he obviously voiced his support for Priefer. ... There's nothing that's proof-based that's going on right now."

Stay tuned for more as this story is sure to develop further.

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