Chris Kluwe was bound to find another NFL team after the Minnesota Vikings released the veteran punter two weeks ago.
Kluwe has reportedly found his next destination, full of interesting asides.
Kluwe’s friend and former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo reported on FOX Sports that Kluwe will be signing Thursday with the Oakland Raiders, noting Oakland’s history with “colorful personalities.”
Kluwe certainly fits the description with his outspoken nature and penchant for public activism, especially in support of equal rights and same-sex marriage. Ayanbadejo reported the deal is for one year at the veteran minimum.
“I’m excited to be an Oakland Raider and be playing in California,” Kluwe told Ayanbadejo. “Now, my family can actually come to games.”
Kluwe, who reportedly also had interest from the Cleveland Browns, is from Southern California, went to UCLA and still lives in the area.
The Vikings opted to draft UCLA punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round of April’s draft, essentially ending Kluwe’s tenure with the club.
“It’s just the nature of the business that no one is ever truly safe in their position,” Kluwe told FOX Sports North after Locke was drafted. “That’s just how the NFL works.”
Kluwe, 31, set a career-high with a 39.7-yard net average last season and his 45.0-yard gross average was the third-best of his career. He owns the Vikings’ best career gross punting average of 44.4 yards-per-punt and is second in team history in net average (37.3).
Yet, Kluwe was receiving more attention for his willingness to speak out as much as his punting. He is a proponent of same-sex marriage rights, a fight that is still a hot-button issue in California because of the state’s Proposition 8. Kluwe and Ayanbadejo have leant their support to legislation that would have Proposition 8, which defines marriage as only between a man and woman, repealed. The fight was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the legality of Proposition 8 in June, according to Ayanbadejo.
The state of Minnesota, which had Kluwe speaking out, passed a bill that was signed into law this week allowing for same-sex marriage rights.
Kluwe also received attention last season when he spoke up in support of former Raiders punter Ray Guy, generally considered the best punter in NFL history, for his exclusion from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame has yet to induct any punter.
In a December game, Kluwe covered a Hall of Fame patch on his jersey with a self-made sign that read “Vote Ray Guy.” The act drew the ire of Vikings’ special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who said “those distractions are getting old to me.”
Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman has contended that the drafting of Locke had nothing to do with Kluwe’s activism.
Now with the Raiders, who lost one of the top punters in the league, Shane Lechler, to the Houston Texans in the offseason, Kluwe isn’t going to change.
“I’m still going to be myself socially and continue to tweet and interact with my fans,” Kluwe said in the FOX Sports report.