In what is arguably the Vikings worst season ever, I add another exhibit for the prosecution to make their case.
I'm going to miss Kleinsasser, as many of us will. He was one of those guys you love to cheer for, and he was hands down the best blocking TE in the NFL for almost his entire career.
A second round pick out of North Dakota in 1999, he has been one of the most unheralded yet most durable Vikings, and he will end his career playing with no other team. Although he (and others around the league) still feel he's got a lot left in the tank, he has no regrets. From Sid's column:
"I'm walking away with two legs that work great and my head is still intact, so I think I feel good about leaving the game right now and just kind of moving on."
I'm going to miss Kleinsasser sealing off the edge, or destroying a linebacker or defensive back who dared get his way as he lead Adrian Peterson downfield. But I can respect and applaud a guy for knowing when to give it up, and walk away with his long term health intact. For a guy that got his paycheck from working in the trenches and doing the dirty, unheralded work, that's as much of an accomplishment as anything he did on the field.
Oh, and here's my claim to fame regarding Kleinsasser. Well, two. This past summer, I got to interview him at training camp, and it was the highlight of my trip. Great dude, very personable. But before that, I have an even better Kleinsasser story:
Back in 2000, I was stationed in Albuquerque, NM, going through some pilot-type training stuff. I needed to find a summer day care for daughter the youngest, who was about 8 at the time. The first place I walked into I talked to the lady in charge, got some info, and she gives me her card. Her last name was Kleinsasser.
"Has to be related", I said to myself.
So I asked her "hey, I'm a big Vikes fan and they have a guy on their team named Jim Kleinsasser. You related to him?"
Turns out she was his aunt, and I pretty much quit my search. So I can honestly say my daugther was looked after by a Kleinsasser while we lived in New Mexico.
Anyway, thanks Jim. Good luck to you in your retirement, and I'll try to get tickets to the game the day they induct you into the Vikings Ring Of Honor.
EDIT: The Official Don Glover reaction: "He is? Wow, sorry to hear that. But with bad as this team is, can you blame the guy?" --No Dad, I can't. I really can't.