Chris Kluwe in 2012 with the Minnesota Vikings
No. 5 Oakland Raiders
|Date of birth:December 24, 1981|
|Place of birth: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|High school: Los Alamitos (CA)|
|Undrafted in 2005|
|Debuted in 2005 for the Minnesota Vikings|
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2012
Christopher James "Chris" Kluwe (//; born December 24, 1981) is an American football punter for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL). He was signed by the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2005 before playing the next eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He is currently with the Oakland Raiders. He played college football at UCLA.
Kluwe played three years of varsity football for coach John Barnes at Los Alamitos High School in Los Alamitos, California and was selected to play in both the California-Texas Shrine game (where he kicked a 57 yard game winning field goal with no time left) and the CaliFlorida Bowl. He also made the USA Today first-team All-American as a punter. He kicked an Orange County and CIF Playoff record 60-yard field goal vs. Loyola to force overtime in an eventual 30-23 victory. Averaging 46.6 yards as a punter, he had 10 punts of at least 60 yards and placed six kicks inside the 10-yard line. As a placekicker, he made 16 of 22 field goal attempts and 39 of 41 PATs. Prior to his senior year, he won the punting competition at the National Kicking Invitational with a 63-yard punt that had 4.98 seconds of hang time. Kluwe also played one year of baseball as a pitcher.
Kluwe developed into one of the top punters in the Pac-10 while playing for UCLA, graduating in 2005 with a double major in political science and history. He set school records for both total punt yardage and total number of punts in a season in 2003. In his senior year, he ranked 3rd in the Pac-10 and 12th in the NCAA in yards per punt (43.4). He was selected as special teams player of the game in the Silicon Valley Football Classic against Fresno State after averaging 44.3 yards on nine kicks. He also tied the bowl record with his nine punts and placed three kicks inside the 20-yard line. Kluwe was a finalist in his senior year for the Ray Guy award that recognizes the best collegiate punter.
Kluwe was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Seattle Seahawks in 2005. Kluwe had been notified by both the Seahawks and St. Louis Rams that either team might draft him in the late rounds. As soon as the draft ended, Kluwe signed a free agent contract with Seattle. Kluwe had an excellent training camp with Seattle, to the point where Donnie Jones was released after the first week of OTA's and Kluwe and Luis Aguilar (a 7 year veteran) split time during the pre-season games for punting duties. Kluwe was told by the Seahawks prior to the final pre-season game they were going to take him to the practice squad as Aguilar had a history over the prior 3 seasons of going on IR during the season and the Seahawks wanted Kluwe both as a potential back-up and for developmental reasons (n.b., Aguilar did go on IR during the 2005 season and John Ryan was brought in to take over punting duties for the Seahawks). Due to NFL rules, the Seahawks had to place Kluwe on the waiver wire for 24 hours prior to signing him to a practice squad contract. The Seahawks waited until the last minute to place Kluwe on the wiaver wire as they knew 3 teams had been scouting Kluwe as a potential punter for their team. The Seahawks concerns were well founded as Kluwe was claimed off the waiver wire early the next day by the Vikings.
Kluwe became one of the most surprising pickups for the Vikings, finishing his first season with an average of 44.1 yards per punt, ranking second in the NFC and sixth in the league. He punted 71 times during his first season. Kluwe was also named NFC special teams player of the month for September, 2005 - a first for any Vikings special teams rookie.
During a Week-13 game in Detroit, Lions safety Vernon Fox dove towards Kluwe during a punt and collided with Kluwe's plant foot. Although initial concerns were that Kluwe had a broken ankle, tests showed Kluwe had a sprained ankle. What the tests did also show was that earlier in the game when the ball was snapped over Kluwe's head and he had to make a running and jumping rugby style kick to avoid being blocked, he tore his right ACL when he landed after the kick. Kicker Paul Edinger was the punter for the remainder of the game, but a few days later the Vikings signed 42-year old veteran Darren Bennett for 1 week. Kluwe then returned to play the final 3 games of the 2005 season with a torn ACL in his kicking leg, which prompted his then coach Mike Tice to reply to a reporter's question about Kluwe's injury that "My punter is a tough guy." As Tice was not known to be sympathetic towards punters and kickers, this showed the amount of respect he had for Kluwe's willingness to play with a serious injury. During the 2006 off-season Kluwe had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to replace the ACL and the operation was successful and Kluwe returned to the Vikings in full health for the 2006 season.
On October 25, 2007 Kluwe signed an $8.3-million contract extension through 2013. The deal made Kluwe, who would have been a restricted free agent in the 2008 offseason, one of the 10 highest-paid punters in the NFL.
On December 20, 2010, Kluwe had the dubious distinction of punting the ball that the Chicago Bears' Devin Hester would return for a touchdown, breaking the all-time NFL record for combined punt and kickoff returns for touchdowns. Previously in the game, Kluwe had successfully kept the ball out of Hester's hands on four punts.
In 2011 Kluwe changed his jersey number when the Vikings acquired quarterback Donovan McNabb. McNabb previously wore #5 for the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, and requested the same number when he arrived in Minnesota, which was then being worn by Kluwe. Kluwe agreed on the condition that McNabb make a $5,000 donation to charity, to mention Kluwe's band Tripping Icarus a total of 5 times during McNabb's press conferences, and to buy Kluwe an ice cream cone. Kluwe took up #4 which had been worn by quarterback Brett Favre in 2009 and 2010. Following McNabb's departure from the team, Kluwe reclaimed his old #5 for the 2012 season. Mcnabb did mention Kluwe's band 3 times and did write the check for the donation, but never bought Kluwe the ice cream cone.
During the 2013 off-season, Kluwe had minor arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus. Recovery was uneventful and Kluwe was back to full health in a matter of weeks. During the 2013 NFL draft, the Vikings drafted Jeff Locke (UCLA) in the 5th round of the draft as a punter. Speculation immediately surfaced that Kluwe's days were numbered with the Vikings due to the use of a relatively high draft round pick for a punter. Although GM Rick Spielman stated there would be a competition for punter, on May 6, 2013, Kluwe was released by the Minnesota Vikings. This is a similar move to what the Vikings had done the prior year when Blair Walsh was brought in to replace Ryan Longwell as place kicker for the Vikings. Speculation was made the release was prompted by Kluwe's outspoken support for same sex marriage and other off field political activities, but the Vikings GM and coaching staff maintain the release was for salary cap reasons. Kluwe left the Vikings holding four team punting records.
Kluwe signed with the Oakland Raiders on May 15, 2013, less than 2 weeks after being released by the Vikings. Kluwe signed for a veteran minimum contract for 1 year. Kluwe has been given his old number (#5) by the Raiders and is currently in off-season training with the Raiders where he is competing with Marquette King for the position of punter. Kluwe expressed thanks to the Raiders for picking him up and stated that "I am glad to be a Raider and playing back in California, where I grew up."
2011 NFL labor dispute
During the 2011 NFL lockout, the Boston Globe reported that an agreement between owners and the players' union was being held up by special considerations for a few top names, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Vincent Jackson, and Logan Mankins. Kluwe tweeted his frustration at this impasse, assailing their greed and calling them "douchebags."
After Nate Jackson wrote an article for the sport website Deadspin, excoriating Kluwe for talking "out of turn", Kluwe responded with his own article, highlighting the contrast between his own fruitful career and Jackson's lack of statistics, while reiterating his opinion that four people endangering the livelihoods of the 1,900 affected by the dispute was "pretty much the definition of greed".
Kluwe and his wife Isabel had their first daughter in July 2008, and their second in 2010. He also wrote a blog named "Out of Bounds," which appeared on the website of the St. Paul Pioneer Press until 2012. He quit the column in protest over the paper's editorial in support of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment which would have amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
Kluwe is well known as an avid Guitar Hero 2 player, having once made an appearance on Minnesota's 93X radio station while playing the game with Andy McNamara from Game Informer magazine. He is also a frequent guest on Minnesota sports station KFAN for "Video Games Weekly" on Wednesday nights. During a KFAN interview on the PA and Dubay show, he admitted he was not very good at sports games.
Kluwe at one time immersed himself in the MMORPG World of Warcraft, playing a troll rogue named Loate and has been a member of one of the formerly top-ranked US guilds, The Flying Hellfish, for over four years. Kluwe is not currently active as a player in WoW, but very actively plays other computer games, both on-line and off-line, and occasionally writes game reviews for gaming magazines. Kluwe is also active in fantasy board gaming and card gaming and owns a store in Costa Mesa, CA (Mercenary Market) that is dedicated to non-computer related fantasy games. In recognition of his support for fantasy gaming, Wizards of the Coast in 2012 developed a specific player card for the Magic: The Gathering game based on Kluwe's Loate troll character.
In addition to his full-time job as punter for the Vikings, Kluwe is the bassist for the local Minneapolis alternative/progressive rock band, Tripping Icarus. Kluwe formed the band in 2009 with friends Andrew Reiner (guitar) and Matthew Marshall (drums), and later recruited Jesse Revel to join on lead vocals. Tripping Icarus recorded their debut EP, The Sideshow Sessions, in the summer of 2009. A year later, they recorded their first full length LP, Perfect Citizen, which was slated for an early 2011 release. When Donovan McNabb was traded to Minnesota before the 2011 season, Kluwe offered McNabb the number 5 jersey in exchange for mentioning Tripping Icarus in at least 5 press conferences, as well as donating $5,000 to Kluwe's charity, and an ice cream cone. McNabb didn't mention the band in five separate press conferences, but Kluwe concedes that "in his very first press conference, he mentioned it like twelve times".
Same-sex marriage activism
On September 7, 2012 Kluwe released a bombastic and profanity laced letter via sports website Deadspin he had sent to Maryland state assembly delegate Emmett Burns, defending the opinions of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and condemning Burns on his attempt to stifle Ayanbadejo's free speech. Ayanbadejo has been a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage and Burns had sent a letter requesting that the Ravens ownership "inhibit such expressions" by their employee.
On October 1, 2012, Kluwe published a letter to the editor that responded to a video statement released by former Minnesota Viking Matt Birk in supporting a ban on same-sex marriage. In the letter, Kluwe outlined six principal reasons why he disagreed with Birk's statement.
Kluwe was also featured in a documentary called "The Last Barrier" which aired on NBC Bay Area on December 8, 2012 at 3 p.m. PST. During this interview he spoke about his feelings towards equality.
Kluwe and Ayanbadejo filed an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court on February 28, 2013 regarding Hollingsworth v. Perry, in which they expressed their support of the challenge to California Proposition 8.
Protest against Pro Football Hall of Fame
On December 9, 2012 during the game against Chicago Bears, Kluwe covered the Pro Football Hall of Fame patch on his uniform with a post-it note with a message "Vote Ray Guy" as a protest against the Hall's 50th Anniversary celebrations due to the lack of pure punters in the Hall. Kluwe was fined $5,250 for a uniform violation by the NFL.
- Gervino, Tony (October 19, 2012). "The punter makes his point". New York Times. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- "Hester runs into the NFL record book", http://www.chicagobears.com/news/NewsStory.asp?story_id=7408, retrieved 12-23-2010
- "Minnesota Vikings release outspoken punter Chris Kluwe". UPI. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "Minnesota Vikings records, Team and Player records". vikingsmania. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- Bedard, Greg A. (July 19, 2011). "Brees, Manning request own settlement terms". The Boston Globe.
- Nate Jackson (2011-07-21). "Dear Chris Kluwe: When We Want The Punter's Opinion, We'll Ask For It (We Won't)". Deadspin.com. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- "Chris Kluwe Responds: Can I Kick It? (Yes, I Can)". Deadspin.com. 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- Jason Linkins, Chris Kluwe Quits St. Paul Pioneer Press Over Marriage Equality Amendment Editorial, The Huffington Post, November 3, 2012.
- "93X ROCKS! Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota radio station website".
- [dead link]
- Schramm, Mike (2008-12-30). "Vikings punter Chris Kluwe plays WoW". Wowinsider.com. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- Shackford, Scott (2012-12-27). "NFL Player Chris Kluwe on Being a Libertarian". reason.com.
- By MJD. "If McNabb wants No. 5, he’ll be promoting a punter’s rock band - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports". Sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- "Vikings Punter Chris Kluwe Plays Not My Job". NPR. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
- Kluwe, Chris. "They Won’t Magically Turn You Into A Lustful Cockmonster". Deadspin. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Burns, Emmett C. "Letter to Baltimore Ravens". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Kluwe, Chris. "Out Of Bounds Blog No. 14 – Problems". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
- Birk, Matt. "Matt Birk speaks on the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment". YouTube. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
- McManus, Jane. "NFLers show support of gay marriage". ESPNNewYork.com. ESPN.com. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- Chris Kluwe calls out Hall of Fame for ignoring punters
|Minnesota Vikings Punters