View Full Version : Kluwe: Getting hang time with the Vikings

11-05-2005, 02:25 AM
From the L.A. Daily News;

Article Launched: 11/04/2005 12:00:00 AM

Getting hang time with the Vikings

Kluwe ranks 4th in punting

By Billy Witz, Staff Writer

Chris and Isabel Kluwe were glued to the local TV news one night last month, watching the lurid details of the Vikings' maritime sexcapade unfold when Isabel came to realize her husband's station in the locker room.
"How come we never get invited to parties like that?" she asked her husband.

Such is the life of a punter. Kluwe, an undrafted rookie from UCLA, leads the NFL in punting, but he is still not considered a player - or a player. Then again, he doesn't quite look or act the part. Lanky, tall and clean-cut, Kluwe wears wire-rimmed glasses away from the field, once tore knee cartilage while trying to get up from watching TV on the sofa, and spends his downtime at the Vikings' headquarters reading science-fiction books or comics and "goofing around on the computer."

Yet in a season that's been a bad joke on and off the field, from the Love Boat scandal to the Vikings' 2-5 record and the season-ending injury to quarterback Daunte Culpepper, Kluwe might be the one Viking who is having a season worth remembering.

Signed a week before the season opener, Kluwe is averaging 45.1 yards per punt and is fourth best in the league with a 40.1-yard average. He was named the NFL's special teams player of the month in September.

"It's been pretty exciting," Kluwe said.

It's been improbable, too. After going undrafted in April, Kluwe signed with Seattle after also getting free-agent offers from Green Bay and St. Louis.

The Seahawks liked Kluwe's strong leg, but didn't want to give the job to an untested rookie. So they kept veteran Leo Araguz and released Kluwe with the intention of signing him to the practice squad and developing him for next season. Kluwe had even signed the Seahawks' practice squad papers, but just before the 18-hour window expired, the Vikings, who had released veteran Darren Bennett, put in a claim on Kluwe.

"You could see he has, one, natural leg strength; two, consistency in turning the ball over; and three, natural hands," said Minnesota scout Ryan Monnens, who watched Kluwe kick against the Vikings in the final exhibition game. "He's also very quick from touch to toe. We didn't really feel like we were taking a chance."

Seven days later, after he auditioned with several veterans, Kluwe averaged 54.3 yards on four punts in Minnesota's season-opener against Tampa Bay.

"I had such an adrenaline rush," said Kluwe. "Getting out there for my first NFL game. My parents, my wife, my family were in the stands watching. It was so exciting to be out there.

"I had to make the most of it. It was definitely in my mind: here's your shot, you've got to take it."

Now his vocation, Kluwe came to punting as a diversion. He played soccer in the winter and baseball in the spring at Los Alamitos High, so he figured he'd try punting to keep himself busy in the fall.

It seemed like a good idea until one of his football coaches suggested he jump into a goal-line tackling drill. Kluwe made the tackle - and also tore ligaments in his knee.

But he stuck with football and it wasn't long before he realized his right leg would take him places. As a senior, he kicked a 60-yard field goal on the final play in regulation of a playoff game that Los Alamitos would win in overtime.

When he arrived at UCLA, Kluwe began punting balls from midfield out of the end zone, over a 60-foot screen that borders the practice field and onto the roof of Pauley Pavilion. Coach Bob Toledo joked that he was going to deduct the cost of the balls from Kluwe's scholarship.

Still, a lack of consistency and the presence of All-Pac-10 punter Nate Fikse kept Kluwe on the sidelines for three seasons. When Kluwe got his opportunity, he set a school record for punting yardage in 2003 and last season he was a Ray Guy Award finalist, averaging 43.4 yards per kick and landing 25 punts inside the 20-yard line.

Of course, there are also three punts that Kluwe would rather forget. They are the ones that Oklahoma's Antonio Perkins returned for an NCAA-record three touchdowns in 2003. USC's Reggie Bush nearly returned one for a touchdown last year.

"I was the last one left," Kluwe said. "The only reason he got stopped was he tripped himself. It was a good experience kicking to skilled returners. That's one difference between college and the NFL. Every team has guys like that. I realize I have to hang it up there and put it where our coverage is going to be. Here I am with my 5.1 40(-yard dash). I don't think I'm going to catch these guys."

The only real adjustment, Kluwe says, has been off the field. He and Isabel, whom he met as a freshman at UCLA and married prior to last season, had never been to the Twin Cities before. They don't know anyone there, although that is beginning to change.

When they came back to Los Angeles a few weeks ago, Kluwe was recognized by one of the baggage screeners at the airport.

"That had never happened before," Kluwe said. "I'm off the radar. I'm the punter."

Sometimes, such as this season in Minnesota, that's not such a bad thing.

11-05-2005, 02:27 AM
As a senior, he kicked a 60-yard field goal on the final play in regulation of a playoff game that Los Alamitos would win in overtime.

:shock: All I can say is WHOLLY SH!T!!!!!

I wonder if he can still kick field goals too?

11-05-2005, 02:28 AM
Ahhh, how good it feels to have a decent punter.... :grin:

11-05-2005, 02:31 AM
"singersp" wrote:

As a senior, he kicked a 60-yard field goal on the final play in regulation of a playoff game that Los Alamitos would win in overtime.

:shock: All I can say is WHOLLY SH!T!!!!!

I wonder if he can still kick field goals too?

At lower levels they use little tee's....Still pretty nice though :grin:

11-05-2005, 02:53 AM
well, were set at the punter spot for a long time, we dont have to listen to that punter situation anymore. Thank god!

11-05-2005, 04:20 AM
Punter and back up FG kicker.. I love this guy. :cheers: