Mike Keller

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Mike Keller
refer to caption
Keller from 1972 Michiganensian
No. 57
Personal information
Born: (1949-12-13) December 13, 1949 (age 72)
Chicago, Illinois
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:221 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school:Catholic Central (MI)
NFL Draft:1972 / Round: 3 / Pick: 64
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Michael F. Keller (born December 13, 1949) is a former American football linebacker and football executive in the National Football League. He played professional football for the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at the University of Michigan.

Early years[edit]

A native of Chicago, Illinois, he attended Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

College career[edit]

Keller played college football at the University of Michigan and became a three-year starter at defensive end from 1969 to 1971.[1] As a senior, he started all 11 games and the 1972 Rose Bowl for a team that finished the season with an 11–1 record and ranked No. 6 in the final AP Poll.[2]

He was selected as an All-Big Ten player in 1971 as well as Associated Press third-team All-American.[2] In July 1972, Keller was selected to play against the Dallas Cowboys in the annual Chicago College All-Star Game, along with Michigan teammates Thom Darden, Reggie McKenzie and Mike Taylor.[3]

Professional career[edit]

Keller was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round (64th overall pick) of the 1972 NFL Draft, with the intention of converting him into a linebacker.[4] As a rookie, he was a backup outside linebacker and appeared in five games, before being sent to the taxi squad to make room to activate Roger Staubach.[5]

He underwent shoulder surgery in 1973 and was placed on the injured reserve list on September 10. [6] He worked in the team's scouting department, while he was recovering from surgery.

He was sidelined again the next year after suffering a pulled stomach muscle.[7] Keller later recalled: "I got hurt in training camp in my second year. I had beaten out another player for the strong-side linebacker position, but I had to have shoulder surgery. That put me out for the season. It also led to a different career".[7] He was waived on September 10, 1974.[8]

Business career[edit]

After retiring as a football player in 1974, Keller had a career in sports management and consulting. He began his management work as an employee of the Dallas Cowboys' personnel department.[7] In 1975 Keller left the Cowboys to join the newly formed Seattle Seahawks as a scout and Assistant Personnel Director. He was promoted in 1978 to Assistant General Manager for the Seahawks.

From 1983 to 1985, Keller worked in the front office of the Michigan Panthers of the newly formed USFL as the team's Assistant General Manager and Director of Football Operations,[9][10] He was the personnel director for the Oakland Invaders of the USFL in 1985.[11] After the USFL dismantled, Keller worked for a time has a scout for the Dallas Cowboys.[12]

Since 1988, Keller and his company, Keller Enterprises/RFL Llc, have been engaged in sports management and consulting.[13] His clients have included rodeo and rugby leagues, as well as a professional football league planning to play its games in the spring.[7] From 1990 to 1992, he was the general manager of the Sacramento Surge in the fledgling World League of American Football.[14][15] From 1995 to 1996, he was the general manager of the Scottish Claymores in the NFL Europe.[16][17]

In January 2000, when WWF owner Vince McMahon ventured into the professional football business to form the XFL, he hired Keller as the league's vice president of football operations.[18][19] In May 2000, Keller told reporters, "All the best players in the world not playing in the NFL will be playing in the XFL."[20] The XFL began its inaugural season in February 2001 and folded in May 2001.[21][22]

Beginning in March 2003, he was the chief operating officer of the American Rugby Football League LLC.[13] Keller noted, "I consult on start-ups. I've become sort of a start-up guru."[7] From 2013 to 2014, Keller was the Chief Operating Officer of the A11FL.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Keller and his wife, Kimberly, have two grown children, Jessica and Sam.[7] His son Sam Keller played college football as a quarterback for Arizona State University from 2003 to 2005 and for the University of Nebraska in 2007.[7][24][25]


  1. ^ "University of Michigan All-time Rosters Search Page". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28.(Enter Keller as the last name and Michael as the first name on the search page, and press enter)
  2. ^ a b "1971 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
  3. ^ Dave Goldberg (July 29, 1972). "Dallas Beats All-Stars as Morton, Sullivan Shine". Waycross Journal-Herald (AP story).
  4. ^ "Coach wishes all-stars with team". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  5. ^ "Sports Notebook". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  6. ^ "Dallas Cuts Winfrey". Palm Beach Post. September 11, 1973.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Brian VanOchten (October 4, 2009). "Mike Keller's short stint with Cowboys on the field led to long career in sports marketing". The Grand Rapids Press.
  8. ^ "NFL Transactions". The Miami News. September 11, 1974.
  9. ^ "Michigan Panthers Front Office". USFL.info.
  10. ^ "Hebert, Fusina Lead Their Teams Into Title Game". Daily News. July 14, 1983.
  11. ^ Howard Balzer (September 9, 1985). "Pro Football Focus". The Sporting News.
  12. ^ "Notebook". The Sporting News. April 14, 1986.
  13. ^ a b "Michael F. (Mike) Keller". Linked in.
  14. ^ "Sacramento Surge Hopes To Electrify". Lodi News-Sentinel. December 5, 1990.
  15. ^ "Surge Begins WLAF Action". Lodi News-Sentinel. March 14, 1992.
  16. ^ "World League of American Football: WLAF History: 1995". World League of American Football.
  17. ^ Allen F. Richardson (May 13, 1996). "Claymores looking forward to selling big game to fans". USA Today.
  18. ^ George Sipple (February 5, 2000). "WWF STEPS FROM RING TO GRIDIRON DETROIT HAS A CHANCE FOR FRANCHISE IN XFL". Detroit Free Press.("Grand Rapids resident Michael F Keller hired as the XFL's vice president of football operations 11 days ago ...")
  19. ^ Kenny Lucas (February 4, 2000). "WWF Enters New Arena with XFL, Hopes to Score a TD". Daily News.
  20. ^ Leonard Shapiro (May 7, 2000). "Extreme football league is ready to rumble". Seattle Times.
  22. ^ Gordon Forbes (May 11, 2001). "XFL too much for NFL fans, not enough for wrestling fans". USA Today.
  23. ^ "A11 Professional Football League launches with team in San Francisco, eyes Tim Tebow". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  24. ^ Dave Newhouse (October 31, 2003). "Football runs in blood of ASU freshman Keller". The Oakland Tribune.
  25. ^ "Pheasant On Friday, Trojan on Saturday?". The New York Times. September 15, 2007.