Robert Klemko is a native of Silver Spring, Maryland, and a 2010 graduate of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Growing up, he spent time at the university, where his mother has been an assistant dean since the early 1980s. Some of his best sports memories were at Maryland, from getting former Terps running back LaMont Jordan’s autograph in the cafeteria to watching the 2002 NCAA men’s basketball national championship from the stands.
His introduction to football came earlier, when his grandmother took him to his first NFL game in 1994. During a Redskins-Raiders preseason contest, she explained to him the sport that he would eventually build his career around.
A dedicated athlete from an early age, Klemko pursued a career playing football until a shoulder injury during his freshman year at Robert Morris University set him on a different path. One way or another, he would make the NFL his livelihood.
Klemko realized his talent as a writer at Robert Morris, where he and a few friends started the student newspaper. He further developed that ability after he transferred to Maryland. As a journalism major he became involved early on, covering an array of local sports for the Prince George’s County Gazette before eventually landing an internship at USA Today, which turned into a job.
From 2010 to 2013, Klemko covered the Redskins and Ravens. His work on the NFL beat, particularly his tough questioning of Ray Lewis and confidence to stand up to players and the media relations staff before a 2012 playoff game, caught the attention of Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. A year later, King hired him as one of the first three writers, along with Greg Bedard and Jenny Vrentas, to join SI’s newly established football site, The Monday Morning Quarterback.
Since then, Klemko has become known not only for his on-field coverage but also for his takes on social issues in sports. Klemko’s profiles of players and coaches are often featured in Sports Illustrated the magazine, and he’s even filled in as a guest writer for King’s distinguished Monday Morning Quarterback column, the inspiration for the standalone NFL website.
In addition to being fascinated by the subjects of his stories – namely their character and drive – Klemko takes an interest in sports impact on communities, particularly in times of crisis. Some of his proudest work is from his coverage of the 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri, or the floods in Houston in September. For an SI True Crime story, he even traveled to Mexico to investigate who stole Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jersey.
Klemko, one of the prominent writers at the MMQB, has also contributed to Time, CNN and the Dan Patrick Show. In 2015, he became the first recipient of the Povich Center’s “Rising Star” award, which honors a young alum who is progressing and succeeding in the sports journalism field. Klemko lives in Denver, closer to the midwestern football teams he covers most often.