Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe says he will be joining the Raiders. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Chris Kluwe will be a Raider like no other.
The former Minnesota Vikings punter, released earlier this month, told Fox Sports that he has signed to play for Oakland in 2013 and that the team will announce the signing Thursday.
Kluwe, 31, has been a fine punter for Minnesota since joining the Vikings out of UCLA in 2005. In 127 games, he has a 44.4-yard average on 623 punts, with a 38.8 career net yardage.
But it’s off the field where Kluwe has gained the most notice. Kluwe is an outspoken, funny guy with strong social and political views and eclectic interests. He was a double major at UCLA in political science and history. He’s a vocal proponent of same-sex marriage, is a bassist for the rock band Tripping Icarus, loves video games – and has been a regular on radio shows in Minnesota to talk about them – and has a passion for playing the online role-playing game World of Warcraft. His Twitter name, in fact, is @ChrisWarcraft.
Since the release of longtime punter Shane Lechler earlier this offseason in a salary-cutting move, the Raiders had been reported to be searching for a veteran punter to come in to compete with strong-legged Marquette King, whom the Raiders signed as an undrafted free agent from Fort Valley State in 2012. Recently, the Raiders brought in pair of veterans for tryouts, Mat McBriar and Jason Baker.
“I’m so excited to be an Oakland Raider and be playing in California,” Kluwe told Fox Sports of returning to his home state. “Now my family can actually come to games.”
Though some believe the Vikings parted ways with Kluwe because of his opinions, especially his strong advocacy of marriage equality, Kluwe told Fox Sports he will continue to speak his mind.
“I’m still going to be myself socially and continue to tweet and interact with my fans,” he said.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, in fact, had questioned the Vikings’ motives when they cut Kluwe this month, saying the team was not “transparent” in stating its reasons.
The signing of Kluwe coincides with another move made by the Raiders Wednesday, the signing of veteran return man Josh Cribbs.