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Mile High Morning: An inside look at Kelly Kleine's journey to Denver and her goals for the future


The Lead

Ten years ago, Kelly Kleine started her career as an intern with the Vikings. Now, she is one of the highest-ranking women in football operations in the NFL. 

Kleine told ESPN’s Courtney Cronin that when she started college at the University of Minnesota, her dream was to be a sideline reporter. Obtaining degrees in sports management and communications, she initially earned a position with the Vikings as a public relations intern. 

From there, her NFL career took off — leading her to eventually become the Broncos' executive director of football operations and special advisor to the general manager. 

"It's not a role Kleine imagined for herself when she first applied for a public relations internship with the Vikings in 2012, which set her on a path to becoming 'the glue' that [General Manager George] Paton says has held the front offices together in Minnesota and now in Denver," Cronin wrote.

Cronin noted that while there were very few women working in football operations at the time, Kleine got an opportunity to fill in for a Vikings scouting intern who'd quit during her senior year of college. Starting with mostly administrative tasks, Kleine's hard work and attention to detail quickly earned her more responsibility; soon, she was evaluating players. Kleine was later placed in charge of college scouting for five states.

When Paton joined the Broncos as the new general manager in 2021, Kleine was one of the first people he hired. Cronin explained that because of Kleine's unique ability to connect with others, she has brought innovation to the Broncos' football operations. 

With the success she's had climbing through the ranks in professional football over the last 10 years, Cronin noted that Kleine's ultimate goal has changed: she believes that, with more work and dedication, she has what it takes to become a general manager one day. 

"It's been a journey that's included overcoming self-doubt, a lack of female representation and seizing opportunities through a skill set and work ethic that have earned her the respect and trust of her peers," Cronin wrote. "Where her path ultimately leads is uncertain, but her trajectory is arching toward even greater significance."

Below the Fold

One bright spot from the Broncos' 12-9 loss to the Colts on Thursday night was the pass rush, which was dominant throughout the game. The Broncos sacked Colts quarterback Matt Ryan six times, and 2.5 sacks came from outside linebacker Bradley Chubb. 

"I don't think we did anything in particular," Chubb said after the game. "I think we just, as a unit, knew what we were up against, and we were up for the challenge. ... We talked about getting Matt Ryan off his spot, trying to get him uncomfortable and the guys just went out there and executed." 

Ahead of this weekend's games, Chubb is tied for second in the NFL with 5.5 sacks on the season.

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