Transcript of a conference call Friday with Raiders punter Chris Kluwe and the local media:
Q: How and when did all this transpire?
Kluwe: Well, I was born in 1981, grew up . . . no, after the Vikings released me I had kind of been waiting to see what would happen. My agent had contact with the Raiders, said they were interested, was brought in for a tryout, think I punted fairly well and they decided to bring me in for the OTAs and hopefully fall camp.
Q: Exciting to come to the Raiders with their history of punters, Guy, Lechler . . .what would it mean to come in here and punt for the Raiders?
Kluwe: It would be awesome. The Raiders have a great history of not just punters, but special teams overall. The Raiders have always been one of those teams where they take a lot of pride in their special teams and it really shows. For me to have a chance to come in and contribute to that I’m really looking forward to it.
Q: Moved to California when you were a kid?
Kluwe: I was born in Philadelphia but my parents moved to Southern California when I was about one, so for all intents and purposes I grew up in Southern California.
Q: Did you have hope you would play for an NFL team in California?
Kluwe: It would be nice, I was actually kind of hoping to do the spend-your-entire-career-with-one-team thing, I think that’s pretty cool and you get kind of that legacy, almost. At the same time, I think that’s really hard to do in the modern NFL. That really doesn’t happen that much any more. So yeah, the situation coming up was just amazing for me because I’m a lot closer to my family now. My parents will be able to come out and see quite a few more games. It’s really cool.
Q: Do you think you’re coming off your two best seasons?
Kluwe: I think I’ve had a pretty good career in general. I’ve had good numbers. I’ve always strived to do exactly what the coaches want me to do. My goal is just to be here and help this team win any way I can. You don’t really hope to see your punter on the field that much, but when he’s out there, you hope you can do what’s necessary to help the team win.
Q: Were you surprised Vikings didn’t bring you back?
Kluwe: I was a little surprised, because I think I contributed over the years to the team, but it’s the NFL, it’s business, and it’s just one of the unfortunate aspects of the business in that we don’t get to call our own shots as players. We kind of have to go with what management and coaches want.
Q: You’ve had a pretty interesting career outside of football, social activism, rock and roll, twitter, you looking forward to Raider fans? Have you already gotten a Twitter bump?
Kluwe: Yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to interacting with Raider fans. Raider fans are very passionate about the team and really looking forward to getting to meet quite a few of those people. I know in Minnesota it was a lot of fun, just doing Twitter events and things like that. Hopefully here in Oakland it will be the same way.
Q: You’re known for being outspoken about civil rights issues, in particular, you’re focused on California Prop 8. What are your plans with regard to Prop 8?
Kluwe: Well, my first plan is to make the team. That’s the overriding influence right now. I don’t really anticipate a whole lot necessary there because it’s one of those things where the Supreme Court should look at it and realize that there are established precedents in place to rule the right way on this case. I’m hopeful that once June rolls around, the Supreme Court will have made the right decision.
Q: Were you surprised at the nation-wide acceptance of Jason Collins coming out as gay?
Kluwe: I was pleasantly surprised, I guess, just the fact that this seems to be something that as younger generations grow up, they really don’t see what the fuss is about. That gives me hope for the future of our society because it really is a matter of people being free to live their own lives without being oppressed by other people, which is kind of the very core of this civilization.
Q: Raiders had a focus on high-character guys of late . . how do you fit into that?
Kluwe: Hopefully I fit in pretty well. I’ve never been arrested. I’ve never done anything detrimental to the team or said anything detrimental about coaches or other players. For me, I just want to come out and help the Raiders win in any way I can. That’s what my job here is to do, help the football team win game.
Q: Did I read your stats right, that you’ve only had one punt blocked?
Kluwe: Yeah, and the only reason it got blocked is that I dropped it. That’s one of those things I also pride myself on, that I have one of the quickest get-off times in the NFL. It hopefully takes some pressure off the guys blocking up front where they can get down and get in coverage faster because they know I’m going to get the ball off.
Q: Seems like kickers and specialists are almost like a brotherhood, do you know Sebastian Janikowski and Jon Condo at all?
Kluwe: I got a chance to meet them when the Raiders played in Minnesota, three or four years ago. Didn’t get a real chance to talk to them outside of that, but I’m definitely looking forward to meeting them and getting to know them, because it is one of those things where unless you’re a specialist, you really don’t understand what the specialist’s job is like. It’s sort of that specialist job you have to do to know what it is. I’m anticipating good relations with both of them and also getting to know Marquette. I met him when I went in for my work out and he seems like a great kid.