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Jim Kleinsasser will retire at the end of the year

Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears Getty Images

It’s rare in this era of free agency to see one player spend his entire career with the same team.

Especially when that career lasts 13 years.

Vikings tight end Jim Kleinsasser confirmed he’s retiring at the end of the season after a long run with the Vikings. Minnesota drafted Kleinsasser in the second round in 1999.

He spent the early part of his career as a fullback, and then developed into one of the best blocking tight ends in football.

“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,” Kleinsasser told Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

It’s a shame Kleinsasser has to go out on such a losing note. He joined the franchise one year after Minnesota’s 15-1 season, and now leaves with the Vikings in contention for the No. 1 overall draft pick.

Kleinsasser never made a Pro Bowl, but he’s one of the players that helped define a generation (or two) of Vikings football.

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44 Responses to “Jim Kleinsasser will retire at the end of the year”
  1. joetoronto says: Dec 23, 2011 9:06 AM

    I always love watching him play, the guy can really block.

  2. vikesfansteve says: Dec 23, 2011 9:09 AM

    Tice was the only one who really used him well & he flourished.

  3. dgoens3109 says: Dec 23, 2011 9:19 AM

    Stud.

  4. 2difshoe says: Dec 23, 2011 9:20 AM

    Kleinsasser…nice career !

    As a Bear Fan, I respect your play, hard and between the whistles. Nice job !

    Enjoy retirement !

  5. squared80 says: Dec 23, 2011 9:23 AM

    Solid player with a great attitude. He will be missed.

  6. jjackwagon says: Dec 23, 2011 9:25 AM

    Congrats on walking away from the game while you still can.
    No Probowls and no one outside Viking land has ever heard of you. Apparently you have had a great career.
    You probably still have more money than I will ever make. AAAArrrggghhh!!!

  7. qdog112 says: Dec 23, 2011 9:34 AM

    I thought he did two years ago.

  8. ha5ko says: Dec 23, 2011 9:43 AM

    also as a Packers fan, i truly respected your game! quality player/career he should be very proud. One of the few Vikings i wanted to be a Packer.

  9. packhawk04 says: Dec 23, 2011 9:43 AM

    I work at a resort in minnesota and I saw him at the pool with his family last summer. Nice guy, took a second to say hello to everyone who recognized him. I didnt approach him considering he was on vacation with his family. Seemed like a class act.

  10. gdeli says: Dec 23, 2011 9:49 AM

    with the vikes luck they will miss out on the #1 pick OR and adrian/harvin player may show up. ha. 15-1 doesn’t matter anymore. Just get into the playoffs and have a sb run. Look at the packers last year almost stopped by the bears in week 16? was it? 2 more games then your free. vikes will miss you. Damn, the team just got worse.

  11. keevel says: Dec 23, 2011 10:02 AM

    I hated seeing him on the field, because he was not on the team I cheer for.

    High motor, better football player than an athlete, never saw him take a play off. Hope he winds up a coach somewhere.

  12. whatchutalkinabouthillis says: Dec 23, 2011 10:08 AM

    Kleinsasser? He’s alright.

  13. mike83ri says: Dec 23, 2011 10:10 AM

    This guy was great in Madden, I’d draft him late as a TE and change him to a FB and he’d go up like 10 points.

  14. ahs2 says: Dec 23, 2011 10:19 AM

    I cringed when you got the ball, you’re old school, love your style! Glad you’re walking away with your melon still intact!!

    Cheers!
    A Lions fan who will NOT miss you…in the nicest way :-)

  15. itsnotforme says: Dec 23, 2011 10:20 AM

    Class act and an excellent role model. To bad there aren’t a few more like him.

  16. waggs12 says: Dec 23, 2011 10:21 AM

    He grew up a Vikings fan in North Dakota and got to live his dream by playing his entire career for his favorite team. Never heard of him getting in trouble or being anything less than a great, well respected teammate. You will be missed, Jim! Thanks for 13 great years!

  17. frymn810 says: Dec 23, 2011 10:29 AM

    We love you Keiny! Tackle with a TE number and always knew what we would get from you!!

  18. linemanguy74 says: Dec 23, 2011 10:46 AM

    THANKS JIM YOU ARE THE GREATEST

  19. dragonfly99 says: Dec 23, 2011 10:53 AM

    Truly a class act. Never had any off- field trouble like many of the Vikings players and played hard on the field. Too bad he played his entire career in Minnesota and never had a chance for a Super Bowl ring.

  20. mattolikesthevikes says: Dec 23, 2011 10:59 AM

    This is terrible news. Big hit to the team.

  21. kinneberg says: Dec 23, 2011 11:17 AM

    You have to search kleinsasser vs ndsu on youtube. He jumped about 4 rounds in the draft because of this one play in college.

  22. textexington says: Dec 23, 2011 11:29 AM

    Another career wasted in purple. How many rings ya got Jim?Zero?LOLZ.

  23. skittlesareyum says: Dec 23, 2011 11:49 AM

    He’s probably my favorite Vikings player. He played hard, did his job, didn’t complain or talk to the media (I don’t think he even has a twitter account). Plus, he even looks kind of like I imagine a Viking would look like (the original plundering Vikings, not the football team).

  24. purpleisreallypinkyouknow says: Dec 23, 2011 11:53 AM

    jjackwagon says: Dec 23, 2011 9:25 AM

    Congrats on walking away from the game while you still can.
    No Probowls and no one outside Viking land has ever heard of you. Apparently you have had a great career.
    You probably still have more money than I will ever make. AAAArrrggghhh!!!
    ____________________________________

    Really….? Jag. Be pissed at the donkeys like JaMarcus Russell who will use his monstrous signing bonus to buy lavish things and be dead broke and pumping gas or worse in 3 years, not a guy who busts his hump and is a workhorse for an organization. These are the guys you should root for.

    One of the Vikings over the years that this Packer fan always respected. (Like William Henderson was for the Pack…respected, classy and a quiet tough guy that was a killer blocker with good hands.)

    Good for him.

    Now back to your paper route….

  25. purpleisreallypinkyouknow says: Dec 23, 2011 11:55 AM

    Another Viking said he was retiring like 5 times…are we sure….?

  26. pateray64 says: Dec 23, 2011 11:56 AM

    One of my favorite Vikings of All-Time.

    Congrats Jim, hopefully we will see you in the Ring of Honor.

  27. fwippel says: Dec 23, 2011 11:56 AM

    Sorry to hear this. Kleinsasser has been a stud for all these years. He’s the last link to the Denny Green era, as well.

    To bad he couldn’t go out on a better note. But a class act all the way. Enjoy retirement, Jim, and stay healthy! God Bless you.

  28. trevorb06 says: Dec 23, 2011 12:03 PM

    Always one of my favorite players. I hope he stays with the team in some sort of coaching role. He’ be a great keep and also a great role model to any young player.

  29. skepticalcommentreader says: Dec 23, 2011 12:15 PM

    Kleinny got to live a dream few pro players get to when he was drafted by his childhood favorite team. He would then go on to spend his entire career with them. Isn’t that what we all dreamed of as kids? Manning and the Saints? Rodgers and the Niners? Romo and the Packers? Favre and the Cowboys?

    I hate knowing you won’t be on the field next year Jim, but I suppose it’s best to always leave while people still want you.

  30. dailynorseman says: Dec 23, 2011 12:25 PM

    textexington says: Dec 23, 2011 11:29 AM

    Another career wasted in purple. How many rings ya got Jim?Zero?LOLZ.
    ————
    Another wasted comment by a Packer fan on ProFootballTalk.

    What have you ever accomplished in your life, Tex? Zero? LOLZ.

  31. gb4mn0 says: Dec 23, 2011 12:54 PM

    What a sad way to go out playing on the queen’s squad that’s likely to set the team record for the worst season in the lavender Larry’s pitiful history.

    He’s a free agent after the season so my guess is he’ll sign on next season if he gets and offer from a team that could be a contender. He’s still got a good year or 2 left in him.

  32. deconjonesbitchslap says: Dec 23, 2011 12:57 PM

    not too many guys in this league you can have nothing but respect for but Jimmy K is one of the few. i cannot think of one criticism. he never got in any sort of trouble. he never criticized players or coaches, or other teams. he played his butt off every play. he worked in the trenches for 13 years hitting gigantic people. truly tough as nails. kind of reminds me of william henderson of the packers.

    jimmy isn’t the type to fret over not winning a superbowl. he just is happy to have played, and for so long.

    fullbacks don’t get enough credit for their work. constantly colliding with linebackers and d-lineman their entier career.

    good heavens did the vikings just get even worse? yep. they are now going to have to fill a 13 year experience hole.

  33. purplehayseuss says: Dec 23, 2011 1:08 PM

    As a North Dakota native myself, I’ve been a Kleinsasser fan from the start. He tore it up for UND and got to live his dream. Jimmy deserves great respect for his personal quality as well as his play on the field.
    Not too many kids from North Dakota get to hang with some of the all-time greats to ever play the game of football. His autograph even goes next to theirs on some of the memorabilia…
    Kleinsasser has earned his place in the Vikings pantheon, alongside the other North Dakota Viking, Dave Osborn, the “Cando Flash”. I don’t know why Jimmy didn’t take 41 but 40 [choosing to abandon 85 - great choice, by the way]…he’s probably too respectful of Osborn’s legacy as a Viking to tread on it.
    The NFL will never reward Kleinsasser with Hall of Fame status, but Viking fans will recognize him for the rest of his life, thank him, ask for his autograph and a picture. He’ll do as they ask without a grumble because that’s who he is. He’s given the NFL one of the ‘good guys’ for 13 years.
    Thanks, Jim. Here’s hoping the rest of your life is successful, too.

  34. theytukrjobs says: Dec 23, 2011 1:58 PM

    One of my favorite Vikings players of my lifetime. Obviously not one of the most important players in the league based on his role as a blocking tight end. But he was really good at what he did, a stand up guy, and uglier than hell. Guy screams North Dakota.

  35. sbxxix says: Dec 23, 2011 2:00 PM

    It will be a sad day for the NFL when this guy retires. I remember seeing him catch a touchdown pass in the movie 50 first dates lol… One of the best FB/TE in NFL history

  36. canadianvikingfaniii says: Dec 23, 2011 2:17 PM

    Been watching Jim since he joined, great under appreciated and under rated blocker. It was funny to watch him in a game when they did throw him the ball he’d be wide open because no one expected him to leave his starting position. So he would be rumbling 20-40 yards down field awkwardly. I’ll miss Kleinsasser, good luck out there.

    On a side note you have to think Steve Hutchinson will be next, he suffered a concussion, he is on the downhill and his good buddy is Jimmy K. who is leaving.

  37. toolkien says: Dec 23, 2011 3:06 PM

    It’s funny (and yes I’m going to go there) that guys on the Packers like William Henderson got absolutely NO notice for their contributions to the Packers’ success during the Favre Era – it was all Favre don’t you know. But Henderson was just as good and valuable as Kleinsasser, if not more. Yet here Kleinsasser is given a fitting eulogy for a nice career, and all people could say – as the Packers failed to make good on being one of the best teams in the NFL (or at least the NFC) for many, many years – is that they didn’t have any Hall of Fame Players other than Favre. It takes a lot of solid, core guys to make a team flourish, not just one guy. And William Henderson comes and goes, effectively was Favre’s “scrambling legs” for the better part of a decade, and he goes without a word. All the words were reserved for Favre and everyone else lived in The Shadow. And yet was all such guys that Favre used to run up a bevy of personal stats that are going to get him in the HOF, and yet would leave them high and dry come the playoffs as Favre channeled his inner 1993-Favre, who no, wasn’t all that great.

    So congratulations to Kleinsasser for a nice career. The NFL is made up of such guys and it wouldn’t be what it is without them.

  38. kake1972 says: Dec 23, 2011 3:32 PM

    Not too many players will play their whole careers for one team. I’m really bummed that he didn’t ever get picked for the Pro-Bowl, he certainly deserved that recognition and respect. Really would have liked for him to get a Super Bowl ring, another thing he truly deserved. He has always been one of my favorites, good solid player, stayed out of trouble, don’t remember any crap about contract negotiations, and obviously very loyal to his team come hell or high water. He will be missed, but at least he’s going out healthy. Good luck Mr. Kleinsasser, enjoy your retirement, it is well deserved.

  39. warhawk04 says: Dec 23, 2011 5:06 PM

    How could he define a generation of Viking football he never even made a super bowl? Oh wait never mind. I guess he almost got there so yeah that makes sense.

  40. indyseriesnick says: Dec 23, 2011 7:12 PM

    hes always been underestimated for his blocking
    i though he shouldve been in at least 1 probowl

  41. holdsteady76 says: Dec 23, 2011 8:13 PM

    Thanks for playing your heart out Jim.

    Payroll down next year from Mcabb leaving, bunch of guys moving on (Jim K, Shiancoe, Cedric Griffen, Camarillo, Charlie Johnson?, EJ Henderson, Aromashadu…possibly Chris Cook).

    They will have some money to address some needs and do have a good nucleus of youth in Ponder, Rudolph, Peterson, and Harvin. Mix a couple first round OL or and WR – They will probably have to sign a vet this offseason to a 1-2 year deal so we can focus on OL and DB for a couple drafts, and THEN draft a WR.

    IMO IF the Vikings are 2-3 drafts away from being competitive. If they do hold the Luck pick I really think they would be able to accelerate the refurbishing project sooner, and maybe be competitive before AD begins to decline.

    The defense isn’t as far behind as it seems. I know they need a lot but like the offense I think it has some bright spots. Jasper Brinkley, Everson Griffen, Greenway, and Erin Henderson. Is it possible to move Winfield to safety? Kevin Williams, Jared, Robison, maybe Cook.

    1-2 years of high draft picks focus on on DB&OL. 3rd year on WR.

  42. barroomhero80 says: Dec 23, 2011 9:00 PM

    Jimmy was one of the hardest working classy dudes. As a vikes fan sad to see u go but glad your going out healthy . And u f tards talking sh*t….. buncha chumps. What have have u done? LOL

  43. jebdamone says: Dec 23, 2011 11:43 PM

    really great to see sausage walking away on his own terms. he is one of my all time favorite vikings but has started to lose his edge a little over the last few years. good to get out while he is still healthy and in good shape. thanks for a lot of great years at the FB and TE position Jim, I will remember you as a viking form life.

  44. Annie says: Jan 2, 2012 11:55 PM

    I only have 2 Vikings Jerseys… one is Moss, which I’ve held on to because I got it his rookie year. The other, is this guy. Can’t wait to see who blocks for our running back next year…. because I doubt they won’t hold a candle to you, Jim. Thanks for the memories… I miss you already.

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