Sports

Packers hire former SVSU QB LaFleur as new head coach

The Green Bay Packers have hired SVSU graduate Matt LaFleur as their next head coach.

The team and LaFleur agreed to a four- year contract with a fifth-year team option. According to Packers News, part of the USA Today Network, LaFleur’s salary will average between $5 and $5.5 million per year.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to be an NFL head coach, but to be the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, it is surreal, and I am extremely humbled,” LaFleur said in his introductory press conference.

The former Cardinal quarterbacked SVSU to three straight Division II playoff appearances from 2000-2002 and still appears on many of SVSU’s all-time leaderboards statistically.

Director of Media and Community Relations J.J. Boehm also serves as SVSU football’s radio broadcaster, and he began covering the team during LaFleur’s first year under center for the Cardinals.

“On the football field, Matt was an intense competitor,” Boehm said. “He had that burning desire to win. He was very successful here as a football player, but he was also very engaged with the broader campus community as a student.”

LaFleur broke into the NFL as a coach in 2008 with the Houston Texans, but he began to draw serious attention during his two-year stint as the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterbacks coach. In 2016, he helped coach quarterback Matt Ryan to an MVP-winning season as the team reached Super Bowl LI.

Following the 2016 season, LaFleur accepted the offensive coordinator job for the resurgent Los Angeles Rams. The team went 11-5 and featured an often-prolific offense, although LaFleur did not call the plays.

LaFleur nally got his opportunity to be a signal caller in 2018, as he served as the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. That responsibility, along with LaFleur’s history with successful young coaches Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, prompted Green Bay to give him his first head coaching job. The Packers parted ways with long-time

coach Mike McCarthy with four games remaining in the season.

LaFleur will have the opportunity to coach one of the NFL’s all-time greatest quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and a team with one of the most storied histories in professional football.

“My philosophy is to lead, teach and inspire, not just our football players, but everyone in this building,” LaFleur said in his introductory presser. “We will be process driven in our pursuit of bringing a Lombardi Trophy back here to Green Bay.”

At SVSU, the new Packers coach played under former head coach Randy Awrey, but he has known current head coach Jim Collins for much of his life. The two first met when LaFleur was 10 years old and Collins was a graduate assistant football coach at Central Michigan University, where LaFleur’s dad served as the defensive backs coach.

“I have always been impressed with Matt’s football knowledge,” Collins said. “His offensive knowledge is obviously very advanced. His demeanor and the way he communicates is one of his big strengths.”

Collins said the two have stayed in contact and communicate on a regular basis.

“Any time an alum makes it to the top of their profession, it is outstanding for SVSU, and when it is a football alum, it is huge for our program,” Collins said.

Another unique SVSU connection is that of Ruvell Martin, who was teammates with LaFleur at SVSU before becoming teammates with Rodgers in the NFL. Boehm said that Martin and Rodgers became close during the early part of Rodgers’ career.

In the SVSU record books, LaFleur ranks third all-time in both pass attempts and completions, fourth all-time in passing yards, sixth all-time in completion percentage and second all-time in total yards.

“I think one of the reasons you are seeing such an outpouring of support from the SVSU community for Matt is not just because he’s had this great accomplishment, it’s also because … he was a great representative of the university, and so I know there’s a lot of people taking pride in his success, because that obviously reflects well not only on him but on SVSU,” Boehm said.

Reporting from Connor Doyle, Reporter

Categories: Sports

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