There has been no official announcement about future Vikings Ring of Honor inductees, but I’m trying to read the tea leaves and make a case for Carrington, ND’s own Jim Kleinsasser to join the circle.
I noticed on the Vikings’ official roster that Rhett Ellison had switched numbers from 40 to 85, seemingly unprompted. It seemed odd as he’s worn #40 during his two seasons with the Vikings and during his college years at USC.
Now this could all be the No Fun League leaning on him to switch as Ellison’s been more TE than FB/H-back during his two seasons, but then again it’s not uncommon for TEs to wear 40s numbers (Chris Cooley, Dave Casper, Dallas Clark, Michael Hoomanawanui, Kleinsasser, etc). Also ironically, Kleinsasser came into the league wearing #85 before switching #40 during his rookie season.
But under the assumption that the number change wasn’t league mandated, our conspiracy theory has legs.
While he never made a Pro Bowl and wasn’t named on the list of 50 Greatest Vikings, Jim Kleinsasser was one of the most popular Vikings during his 13-years in the Purple. A lunch pail type player if there ever was one.
He’s a local product – born, raised, went to college at North Dakota – and was a fan favorite due to his blue collar, no nonsense approach to the game. Kleinsasser was drafted the same year as Daunte, ran with Randy, and eventually lead the way for AP. He was the backbone of the 2000s Vikings.
If you look at the current Vikings Ring of Honor list, there are a number of fan favorite, team first guys on there who didn’t receive all the alcolaydes – most notably Jim Marshall. If the team decides to honor Kleinsasser in that fashion, he fits that mold to a T since he’s definitely not getting in based on stats (only 7 career Tds).
As far as the Ellison number change tying in, while Ring of Honor players numbers aren’t official retired, they are issued in reduced circulation (22 – Krause-Harrison) (93 – Randle-KWill) (56 – Doleman/EJ) (59 – Blair/Farwell). But perhaps Rhett’s swap was a preemptive move by the team in preparation for the ceremony.
If the Vikings had 53 players with the team first attitude of a Jim Kleinsasser every year, we’d never lose a game. And if the plan is to honor him in this manner, I’d be all for it. Preferably a late-season game during the two years at the bank.
Honoring a former Viking – who most resembles what a historical Viking looked like — outside in a snow storm would be the height of awesomeness. There wouldn’t be a dry eye in the Midwest.
Kleinsasser was (and will always be) one of my favorite Vikings. A tough minded, blue collar guy who eschewed personal glory for the benefit of the team. The type who did all of the unsexy jobs on a football field with relish and are the glue of any successful franchise.
It did not go unnoticed by the Fans.
Hopefully it won’t be by ownership when it’s time to add another name to the Ring of Honor in the fall.
[Photo Credit: Bobak Ha’Eri]
[Video Credit: Ryan Smith]
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