A years-long mystery hit a fever pitch during the 2023 NFL free agency frenzy: Who the heck is Dov Kleiman?
Earlier this week, star Jets receiver Garrett Wilson cited Kleiman — or “‘Dov’ bro” — as the source of the “news break” much of the NFL world has been waiting on: Aaron Rodgers’ football future.
Kleiman had re-shared a report from Trey Wingo, who claimed Monday that Rodgers’ trade to the Jets was “done.”
As of Wednesday morning, Rodgers is still a member of the Packers, and the Jets have not yet landed a veteran quarterback.
Kleiman, however, was harangued on WFAN’s top-rated “Boomer & Gio” morning program.
The Post reached out to Kleiman, who has been unavoidable on Twitter, and got some answers about who the heck he is.
A full-time contractor for BroBible, a men’s culture site founded in 2009 that has been a gritty survivor of the bygone sports blog era, Kleiman is in his early 30s and lives in Israel.
BroBible partner Cass Anderson confirmed to The Post that Kleiman is the aggregator’s real identity and they’ve been on Zoom together.
A staffer for OutKick, where Kleiman worked previously, said the same.
The reason for the widespread confusion as to why you’d even need to ask that of someone’s employer is the masses see Kleiman’s tweets constantly but no one has ever publicly seen a photo of him.
His Twitter avatar is an illustration.
Reached by Twitter DM on Tuesday, Kleiman was in a down mood about “getting attacked all over the internet” in response to a tweet he wrote about another’s report.
Kleiman couldn’t understand why he was the target of vitriol over a tweet that reiterated a scoop from Wingo, a veteran NFL broadcaster, pertaining to the Rodgers-Jets saga.
He answered a number of questions through DMs, and agreed to provide two photos for public consumption.
Though it was Wingo who first reported the Jets were in talks with Rodgers, other well-known league insiders at the likes of ESPN and NFL Network were treating his report as premature.
Wingo tweeted about the “done” deal at 2:52 p.m. ET on Monday.
As his trademark, Kleiman re-wrote Wingo’s tweet, credited the former ESPN host and posted it three minutes later.
Kleiman’s message has been viewed 12.3 million times as of Wednesday, with Wilson — one of the young Jets who has been relentlessly lobbying for Rodgers to come to New York — being one of them.
“I ain’t gon fake it, I thought ‘Dov’ bro tweet was the news break I was waiting for… smh. Idk anything. Sorry ab that,” Wilson tweeted Monday evening, hours after he and his teammates engaged in the online version of a touchdown celebration.
Kleiman has about 150,000 followers on Twitter and he was verified by the social network long before you could pay Elon Musk nearly $8 a month for a blue checkmark.
His followers include NFL insiders Dianna Russini, Albert Breer, Field Yates, Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, and Ian Rapoport.
And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the scores of big names around the NFL and sports media who follow him.
When Wilson cited Kleiman as his source of the Rodgers news, hordes of Twitter users began accusing the aggregator of disinformation.
Kleiman protested to The Post that he was receiving scorn rather than Wingo, the originator of the news.
“I think in general that it’s worth noting Trey Wingo should take this heat if anything, not me. I used his report as a media person who worked on ESPN for 20+ years, and was the first to break the story about Rodgers talking to the Jets last week,” Kleiman said.
“If Garrett Wilson read my tweet correctly and didn’t say ‘Dov’s tweet’ and said Wingo’s tweet, this day would’ve played a lot different. Because I did credit Trey correctly.”
Wingo, by the way, has stood by his report, telling another serial NFL aggregator, Ari Meirov of the NFL Update account, that the deal’s been done since last week and Rodgers isn’t the holdup.
The Kleiman backlash further bubbled over Tuesday morning when Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti, the duo on WFAN’s top-rated morning drive program, ribbed the aggregator.
“I don’t think this man really exists,” Giannotti began. “He doesn’t report anything on his own but he has [about 150,000] followers.”
Giannotti marveled that no photo of Kleiman has ever come to light, and about his ability to be amplified despite not having first-hand sources or scoops.
“Everybody retweets his stuff but he doesn’t do anything on his own. This is what I don’t understand,” Giannotti said. “Everything that he puts out is something that someone else put out.”
Esiason read aloud from a Reddit post wondering about Kleiman’s identity: “Sincerely, who is this guy? All he does is tweet clickbait stuff, insulting pretty much everyone’s team, and pasting everyone else’s reports.”
Kleiman told The Post he thought Esiason, who also previously said that Rodgers would definitely be a Jet, but received a fraction of the credit of Wingo, was “just upset that Trey’s report was getting so much attention and took it out on me.”
What we have just described is emblematic of a constant private gripe amongst league insiders in all of the major sports, who resent the way that a number of social accounts glom off their content.
Publicly, Bill Simmons and Brian Windhorst frequently bemoan “the aggregators” of their popular podcasts.
Often, they argue, the crucial context of what they are saying extemporaneously is cut out when someone converts it into a pithy tweet.
Kleiman has, at times, been accused of distorting context.
For example, when rumors that Rodgers might be traded this offseason first began percolating in January, Adam Schefter said on TV that he didn’t “think there would be any way” the Packers would trade the quarterback within the NFC.
“The Packers will not be trading Aaron Rodgers within the NFC Conference. They ‘will explore’ the idea of trading the QB exclusively to the AFC, per Adam Schefter,” Kleiman tweeted.
Kleiman presented Schefter’s statement as sourced intel when the NFL insider was presenting an opinion rather than reporting it as fact.
Ultimately, Kleiman followed up by posting the video of Schefter’s TV appearance, allowing his followers to decide for themselves.
There is an inherent disconnect that Kleiman appears to seek the limelight and to relish the dopamine rush of likes, retweets, and new followers, but has also wanted his privacy — it can feel like a mini version of how “South Park” lampooned Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
He tweets nearly nonstop — about 60 times on Tuesday — and the way he writes them sure seems strategically conceived to spread in the tempest of the Twitter algorithm.
The tweets usually include a photo or video and are rarely quote tweets or retweets, functions which, for whatever reason, have traditionally earned less engagement.
Kleiman’s methods are working — he has more than doubled his following from about 70,000 less than a year ago.
As far as how he monetizes the content, he said, “I’ve done it in a number of different ways: Promoting ads, various content, being paid to promote articles from outlets, writing stories about the league (NFL) for years.”
Nevertheless, Kleiman contends that he has not sought notoriety.
“I do understand what you mean but I’ve declined many radio and tv interviews over the years to talk about football, not myself. I’m not looking for ‘Fame’ out of this,” he said.
“I have a certain passion for news and for football and I enjoy what I do. I never even planned to make any money from this, I had a normal job for the first few years. But opportunities came along and I went with it. But I never meant to get ‘fame’ here. I don’t want this much attention.”