Sometimes procrastination is beneficial, and waiting until the last minute can change your life.
As early as Kelly Kleine was respected for her persistence in completing tasks and professional ethics, which promoted her rise in the NFL front desk. She is just another college student whose to-do list does not always include homework.
The spring of 2012 is a typical example. For one mission, Klein had to interview a person in the field of sports communication, and time was running out.
“There are still two days before the due date. I thought,’Oops, I have to find someone,”‘ she told the Denver Post in a training camp interview.
Through classmates, Klein got in touch with Jeff Anderson, who was then the director of corporate communications for the Minnesota Vikings. Because she didn’t have a car, her roommate Molly at the University of Minnesota drove her to a team facility on the outskirts of Eden Prairie.
Soon, as soon as the table turned, Anderson interviewed Klein and joined the Vikings’ match day internship program.
That meeting started an impressive and incredible journey. Impressive, because Klein is considered the NFL’s second-ranked woman in team football. Unlikely, because her football experience before joining the Vikings was to participate in the Green Bay Packers game and assist the sports information department of her university.
Klein was hired on April 17, with a long title — special adviser to football operations executive director and general manager George Parton — and so did her job description. In her office next to Patton on the second floor of the Broncos facility, she is responsible for overseeing the team’s equipment and video department, organizing the team’s professional/college scouting work, conducting professional scouting, and is the top administrative officer of Patton.
“She was involved in everything,” said Parton, who oversaw Klein on the Vikings from 2013-20. “For me, she is the contact person for many different departments. She is responsible for many things and is a sounding board for me.”
Provides a sounding board for Payton and other women in the sports industry. She will not actively wave a banner and shout: “Look at me! I have a big title!” But she knows the platform she has and will provide guidance to any young women who seek it.
Brittany Bowlen, senior vice president of strategy for the Broncos and the daughter of the late owner Pat Bowlen, said: “She is confident, but in a humble way, she is Very talented.”
Klein is only 30 years old.
Like NFL immediately
The family rules of Arthur and Barb Kleine from Sheboygan, Wisconsin were passed on to their three children (Eric, Amy, and Kelly): participate in sports or find a job. You will work in the summer. Housework is not a request, but a demand. When the university arrives, get your student loan application as early as possible.
Eric, 34, is a teacher, and Amy, 33, works for Kohler in Sheboygan. When Kelly entered the late high school, both of them went to college. She played basketball, softball and golf in Sheboygan North. Standing 5 feet 3 1/2 inches tall, Kelly said she was a “hype” on the bench, only playing when basketball broke out, being “okay” as a shortstop and “quite good” on the golf course.
Kieine knew she wanted to leave the “Sheboygan bubble” to go to a college. Her parents wanted Kelly to play golf in a small school. Kelly and Bab are visiting St. Thomas, a private university in Sao Paulo.
“We said,’Look at the University of Michigan while we are here,'” Kelly said. “I went to campus and fell in love with it.”
Wisconsin residents who participated in Minnesota were eligible for in-state tuition, which led Kelly to make a decision.
Klein works in the sports information department of the Gophers and is responsible for the publicity of swimming and women’s basketball.
“I thought I would go the (media relations) route,” she said. “My dream job in college was to be a side reporter, but then I realized that I was not a good, clear speaker, so I gave up this dream and entered the public relations department of Minnesota.”
The NFL opportunity began with a meeting with Anderson at the Vikings.
“I don’t think I said anything profound in the interview,” said Anderson, who is now the team’s vice president of strategy and corporate communications.
However, at least one thing caught Klein’s attention: the opportunity to add another content to her growing resume.
Soon after, she started pitching during the busy days of home games and regular seasons.
“Like it,” Klein said.
Entering her senior year (2012 football season), she balanced her internships with the Vikings and Gophers and part-time work at the University Recreation Center.
If she couldn’t borrow a friend’s car, Klein would walk from her apartment to a city bus that took her to downtown Minneapolis. She took a bus to Eden Prairie, and then walked a few blocks to reach the Vikings.
Anderson said: “Just jump over those hoops and step into the door (impressive).” “She completed this work and invested a lot of time. She brought this humor and vitality to our department.”
In March 2013, when the scout office needed help, Klein continued his internship in the media relations department.
The “Best Intern” of the Vikings
Klein admitted that she was “entangled” in football work. Prior to the 13th draft, Vikings scout Steven Price measured her interest in assisting scouts.
“I don’t know what I am doing,” she said. “(General Manager) Rick (Spilman) called me to his office. We talked for a long time, and they (previously) didn’t hire women in that department. He didn’t lie to me—he said, “Now it’s Time, this can be expected. “I’m going all out.”
Parton is the assistant to the general manager of the Vikings. He said that the initial plan was for Klein to help complete the draft. Once the staff saw her seamlessly integrate herself into their world, this situation quickly changed.
“The best intern we have ever had,” Parton said. “She couldn’t believe it.”
Kleine graduated, was a scout intern for 13 years, a scout assistant (full-time job) in 14 years, a college scout coordinator from 15-16, and a player personnel/college scout manager from 19-20. She relied on experienced evaluators such as Patton, Spearman, and retired player/scout Scott Stoudeville, for Price, other scouts, and the late offensive coach Tony Sparano Provide advice and guidance for Scouting 101.
“This is a completely different world, and I like everything about it,” Klein said. “I haven’t played football, so I don’t know all the X and O. In the first summer, we studied scouts in depth. I didn’t know anything about scouts and the whole process behind the draft. The whole department came to me. They were all great, and I immediately felt at home.”
Every summer, the Vikings open a “Boy Scout School” for young evaluators. After Kleine participated, she visited Price’s office to have additional learning and discussion about the process.
“She has always been interested in how people view the game and how she expresses her opinions in her own words,” Price, who is currently the professional personnel manager of the New York Giants, said in a telephone interview.
Kleine is particularly good at connecting with college coaches and potential clients.
Her curious side was revealed in the annual Boy Scouts United Movement in Indianapolis. Every night, when a potential client conducts a 15-minute interview with team officials, the speed dating portion of the event occurs. Klein manages the bullpen to ensure that when the horn of the next game is blown, the next player scheduled is present. This is her opportunity to gather information from potential customers.
“I like this because I see real people,” she said. “I am standing in the corridor with them, I can shoot with them (bulls), just feel them, if they are a good communicator or call frequently, if they are friendly or not, how do they treat others, If they are talking to others (potential customers). You see real people, not when they are in the interview room. They are focused and serious, showing a little face to impress more people.”
Price said: “I have never met someone more suitable for an interview than Kelly. She didn’t know how valuable it was until we entered the (primary) meeting and asked about her experience with the players.”
Kleine’s family wants her to participate in sports, not the NFL; Babu thinks this will be the PGA Tour. As she marched with the Vikings, Arthur’s face was filled with pride.
“He always said,’Did you know? This girl, she will succeed,'” Babu said.
Make dad proud
Arthur Kleine was born and raised in Sheboygan and graduated from Whitewater, Wisconsin, and was the first person in his family to go to college. After working for Kohler, he served as Director of International Supply Chain for Johnsonville Sausage Company. Arthur suffered a stroke and died in a Milwaukee hospital on September 13, 2017. He is only 58 years old.
“He is a healthy person,” Amy said. “It really came out of thin air. Very, very unexpected.”
In a follow-up telephone interview last Friday, Kelly stopped to tidy up himself, just saying: “Yes, it’s bad.”
Arthur is the reason why the NFL’s early morning/late night nature does not bother Kelly.
“We didn’t realize this at the time, and it made us a little bit (tick) when we were young-he was very strict with us,” she said. “He made us work. No matter what he did, he taught us a lesson.”
If Arthur represents the grind characteristic, Babu gives Kelly the carefree/humane characteristic. Amy likes to say that her sister will build friendship on a short flight.
“He is very proud of Kelly,” Eric Klein said. “When someone asks about her, his face will glow.”
Arthur is a founding member of the Sheboygan Lions Club, and a golf tournament is held every September to commemorate him. This year’s goal is to raise at least $10,000 with the help of John Hervey and Von Miller’s signature football. This will be the first one Kelly missed because part of her new role on the Broncos is traveling with the team.
Parton was hired by the Broncos on January 13, “If I were to get a job (as general manager), I would always consider Kelly.”
Until April 27, the Philadelphia Eagles promoted Catherine Raiche to vice president of football operations. Kleine has been considered the highest-ranked woman in the league’s football organization.
Klein understands why her hiring will cause concern, but her method has not changed. Doing her job well and the success of the team may bring more opportunities.
“If this helps a person realize that they can be whoever they want to be in the NFL, then thinking about it makes me shudder,” she said. “But I just came here to work.”
On Sunday, when Kleine watched her first regular season as a Broncos executive, a journey that began with school work nine years ago and steadily climbed within the Vikings continued with the New York Giants.
“It’s a new feeling, exciting,” she said. “New role. Exciting team. I think the whole team and the whole city are looking forward to it. It will be great. We have a good roster and a good group of people. I would love to make it to Sunday.”