Friday Flashback: Klever was Alaska’s first NFL player in 1983

October 30, 2020

Rocky Klever

Anchorage’s Rocky Klever seemed to make Alaska history every time he took the field in the NFL.

He was the state’s first draft pick, the first to gain a yard and the first to score a touchdown. He was also the first to appear in a playoff game.

Drafted in the ninth round in 1982 as a running back, Klever was switched to tight end and spent all five seasons with the New York Jets.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder started 25 of 65 games and caught 46 passes for 514 yards and three touchdowns.

In 1982, Klever helped the Jets reach the AFC Championship Game.

In 1984, he scored his first touchdown on a 7-yard pass from Ken O’Brien in the first quarter of a 30-20 loss to the New England Patriots.

In 1985, he scored two TDs and had a career-best 183 receiving yards. In 1986, he started 11 of 16 games. Both seasons he made playoff appearances, playing a total of three games.

In college, Klever played at the University of Montana and left as the all-time leading rusher with 2,228 yards, a record that stood for nearly 30 years until another Alaska standout Yohance Humphery broke the mark in 2000.

At West High, he led the Eagles to a state title in 1975. He was named all-state at quarterback as a junior and senior.

Friday Flashback is an ongoing series created by Alaska Sports Hall of Fame blog editor Van Williams that looks back on great Alaska athletes from the past. To read about other Alaskans featured in this series, click here.