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Thursday, May 16, 2013
Chris Kluwe says he'll join Raiders

ESPN.com news services

Punter Chris Kluwe told FoxSports.com that he is signing with the Oakland Raiders.

The outspoken punter, who was released earlier this month by the Minnesota Vikings, will replace Shane Lechler, the NFL's career leader in gross average per punt (47.5 yards), who left the Raiders after 13 seasons to sign with the Houston Texans this offseason. FoxSports.com reported the Raiders will officially announce Kluwe's signing later Thursday.

"I'm excited to be an Oakland Raider and be playing in California. Now, my family can actually come to games," Kluwe, who went to high school in Southern California and played in college at UCLA, told the website.

The FoxSports.com story was written by former NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo, who like Kluwe is a vocal advocate for gay rights. Kluwe said he will continue to express his views.

"I'm still going to be myself socially and continue to tweet and interact with my fans," Kluwe told the website.

The 31-year-old Kluwe averaged 44.4 yards per punt over his career in Minnesota, including a career-high 39.7 yard net average last season.

But he ranked just 17th in the NFL in punting and was due to make $1.45 million this season, making him a prime target to be cut by the Vikings.

During his time with the Vikings, Kluwe earned a reputation as one of the most opinionated players in the league. He criticized union leadership during the lockout, wore a patch on his uniform to protest the lack of punters in the Hall of Fame and, most notably, became a vocal supporter of gay rights, penning a number of thoughtful, and occasionally profane, columns on the issue for various websites. He also plays in a rock band in his spare time and is an avid video gamer.

Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer made it clear last season that Kluwe's headline-grabbing nature was wearing thin with him. When Kluwe was fined more than $5,000 for putting a message reading "Vote Ray Guy" over a patch on his jersey commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in December, Priefer voiced his displeasure.

In an interview with ESPN Radio earlier this month, Kluwe said he never had a problem with his Vikings teammates.

"What I do is, when I'm there to play football, that's the only thing I'm there for. I'm not going to preach … or tell anyone what to do because that's not what I'm getting paid to do," he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.