As Women's History Month nears its close, Broncos fans and anyone with aspirations to work in an NFL front office can get a new, detailed look at Executive Director of Football Operations/Special Advisor to the General Manager Kelly Kleine's path to Denver.
As part of the extraordinary "Next Woman Up" series, which features conversations with some of the most high-profile women working in pro football — and some whose work perhaps goes under the radar — NFL.com's Brooke Cersosimo spoke with Kleine to hear about her experiences climbing the ranks, from working as a scout to her current role with the Broncos.
Kleine first broke into the scouting world as an intern with the Vikings, and after gaining full-time employment in Minnesota, she was able to begin honing scouting skills to go with her organizational and administrative abilities. Yet, as a woman in a predominately male field, she faced unfair presumptions.
"The first pro day I went to, I shadowed one of our scouts, so I did everything he did," Kleine told Cersosimo. "At the end of the day, all of the scouts lined up and one player shook everyone's hand. I was at the end of the line and when he got to me, he looked at me and walked away. He assumed I wasn't a scout. That always stood out because it made me so mad."
However, Kleine notes, the era where she was an outlier in NFL front office staffs appears to be falling away.
"I have never seen so many women at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine than I have this year," Kleine said. "It's awesome. In my first year, there were something like three women for 32 teams. We really stood out. The number of women has grown and this year, women are everywhere within the club scouting departments. It's incredible. It's only going to continue to evolve and now we need to keep elevating the women who are in."
Asked for advice that she'd give women who want to break into scouting, Kleine emphasized that, outside of the work one's willing to put into that dream, it's important not to let playing experience dictate one's potential in the field.
"The No. 1 thing to know is it's a lot of work," Kleine said. "Be organized. Be detailed. Be ready to work your ass off. If you do all of these things, you'll have a job and find success. The second is to be confident and know you can do it. A lot of men who are scouts didn't play football. Anyone can learn it if you put the time in. That was a big thing for me, realizing that men who didn't play football learned how to scout. If they could learn it, why can't I? There are general managers and coaches out there who never played either, so what's holding us back?"
For much more on her impressive work in the NFL, including some interesting information on the work the front office has done this offseason moving from one coaching staff to another, be sure to check out Cersosimo's full interview here.
Below the Fold
Russell Wilson's offseason workouts continue! After last week's big session, Wilson got to work with Jerry Jeudy more recently — and apparently the work lasted well past sunset.