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Jim Kleinsasser, MN Vikings

1/28/2004:

This Saturday will be Jim Kleinsasser’s 27th birthday. He was born in 1977 in Carrington, and at 6'3" and 272 pounds, he’s now playing tight end for the Minnesota Vikings.

While playing for Carrington High, Kleinsasser was two times 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 and has remained there.

Current 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 agrees. “In my mind, he’s probably one of the top three players on this team,” Culpepper said in referring to himself and Randy Moss. “He’s a great player. And we’re definitely going to need him to be successful.”

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. We made him our franchise player, so we think his role will expand. To what extent, who knows?”

“Growing up in North Dakota gave me the skills and values needed to be successful in life,” says Kleinsasser. “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.”

So, here’s our birthday present to Jim Kleinsasser today. Scott Miller of WDAY AM Radio in Fargo has the call of a historic Kleinsasser Touchdown against the Bison in the FargoDome in 1998:

Happy Birthday, Jim!

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm