Jim Kleinsasser, Minnesota Vikings
This Sunday will be Jim Kleinsasser’s birthday. He was born in 1977 in Carrington, and at 6’3? and 272 pounds, he became a tight end for the Minnesota Vikings.
While playing for Carrington High, Kleinsasser was twice named All-Region, All-State and Gatorade Circle of Champions North Dakota Player of the Year. He also played in the North Dakota Shrine game and the Montana-North Dakota All-Star game.
After high school, Kleinsasser played for UND, where he won a long list of awards, including All-American and unanimous All-NCC first team pick.
Kleinsasser was selected as a tight end by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2nd round of the 1999 National Football League draft. He was moved to the fullback position for a short time where he quickly gained a reputation as a ferocious blocker for the other running backs. He was moved back to his natural position of tight end in 2001.
Vikings head coach Mike Tice said, “ If people look at the true requirements of the position, then I think they would agree that Jimmy is the best all-around tight end in the league.”
Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper agreed. “In my mind, he’s probably one of the top three players on this team.” Culpepper likely had himself and Randy Moss in mind for the other two.
Coach Tice went on to say, “We think that Jim is one of the best. He can block at the point, he can pass protect, he can catch, he can run after the catch.”
Kleinsasser credited growing up in North Dakota for the skills and values needed to be successful in life saying, “Don’t ever take for granted growing up in this great state, because the opportunities are available to you if you want to succeed. North Dakota has a strong educational system, good work ethics, and positive core values.”
Happy Birthday, Jim!
Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm