May 15, 2012

Denver Broncos Defensive Line Coach Wayne Nunnely Retires

After 36 years of coaching football -- including 17 in the NFL -- Wayne Nunnely is retiring from the game.

"It has been an absolute dream come true for me to coach for 36 years," Nunnely said in a statement. "I am so thankful for all the opportunities I have been given to have a positive impact on others through the game of football. More than anything, I am proud of the accomplishments of the teams and players I have been so privileged to work with over the years."

Nunnely coached the Broncos defensive line for three seasons after spending 12 years coaching that position for the San Diego Chargers and two for the New Orleans Saints at the start of his NFL career.

While the defense became his passion in the professional ranks, it wasn't always that way.

"I was a running back," Nunnely told before the team's 2011 season opener. "I was coaching running backs the first year of my first college job. Our D-line coach quit that spring and for some reason, I always say it was God’s will, he came to me and asked if I would coach the D-line. I coached it that year, left there, went to another school, coached D-line, went back to running backs for about eight years, and ended up with the D-line once again at UCLA – my last college job. And then I was in the NFL after that – I’ve been coaching the D-line ever since. It was meant to be to coach the D-line, because my expertise at that time was running backs, but the good Lord saw fit for me that he knew in the future I was going to be coaching D-line."

And he excelled coaching that position.

His lines have contributed to seven seasons in which his teams have ranked among the league's top seven clubs in rushing yards per game allowed -- including No. 1 with San Diego in 2005 and 1998.

In his first season with the Broncos, he coached the only line in the league comprised entirely of first-year full-time starters, and the team's three down linemen helped the Broncos rank seventh in the league in both yards per game and yards per play allowed in 2009. In addition, his group played a role in the club's 39 sacks -- the highest total in seven years and 10th-best output in the league that season.

Last season, Nunnely coached an entirely new defensive front for the second consecutive season in addition to implementing new schematic responsibilities with the defense’s conversion to a 4-3 base. Elvis Dumervil earned his second career Pro Bowl selection in 2011 and the defensive line helped the Broncos post 41 sacks to mark their highest total in 11 years.

"Wayne has been an outstanding teacher and mentor for so many players and coaches throughout his career," Head Coach John Fox said in a statement. "His passion for the game is something that I greatly admire, and it’s one of the many reasons why he was so valued and respected as a coach. Although I only had the opportunity to work with Wayne for one season, it was a pleasure to watch him coach. His positive influence on the defensive line was an important part of our team’s success."

"When Wayne reflects on everything he accomplished in his career, I hope he is as proud as I am of what he has done as a coach. I am happy that Wayne will have the opportunity to spend more time with his family, and I congratulate him on a great coaching career."

During his time in the NFL, Nunnely coached a number of talented players, including three Pro Bowlers in Jamal Williams, Marcellus Wiley and Dumervil.

"He’s a great man and a great mentor off the field as well," Dumervil said of Nunnely. "He helped me become a mature person off the field. He’s a great technician coach. He was always fiery and he always had it in gameday, practice -- he always came with it every day to work. Those were things I learned from him, no matter how you feel, you have to come to work every day, day in and day out. It’s all about consistency and he showed a good example and was a role model for our defensive linemen."

Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson called Nunnely a "perfectionist," and said the defensive linemen will miss him this season.

Defensive end Robert Ayers agreed.

"He definitely was, in my opinion, a very great coach in this league," Ayers said. "He’s very established, and if you look at his résumé and the guys that he’s coached there are a lot of Pro Bowlers and a lot of great players. He’s going to be missed and we definitely learned a lot from him. He brought a lot to work. Guys fed off his tenacity. His passion for the game was intense and we all fed off that."

One of the first African-American head coaches at the Division I level, Nunnely spent 18 years coaching in college including a four-year stint as the head coach of his alma mater, UNLV.

Nunnely, 60, is married to Velda and they have three sons, Steven, Channing and Aaron, and one daughter, Amber.

"This was not an easy decision, but it was the right one for me and my family," Nunnely said. "At this stage of my life, I want to devote more time to my wife, Velda, and the rest of our family. They have been with me every step of the way through an incredible career that I’ve been so blessed to enjoy. The NFL has a wonderful retirement plan, and it’s time for me to begin the next chapter of my life."

"I will truly miss being around so many dedicated players and coaches here in Denver. I look forward to watching the Broncos and wish them all the best this season."

Nunnely was very well liked. The last couple of years at Training Camp it was common to hear the rich baritone announce the theme for the Denver Defense, "Nobody runs on the Broncos!" This is a coach that players and even the fans loved. Nunnely has a good nature to him and a contagious laugh to go along with it. He was always cordial to the fans at Training Camp and would come over to chat and sign autographs.

Wayne started coaching 36 years ago in 1975. He coached at Cal Poly Pomona, CSUF, University of the Pacific, USC, UCLA as well as a tenure at Head Coach foe his alma mater UNLV from 1986-89. Nunnely coached Running Backs at first because he was familiar with the position. He played Fullback with the Running Rebels.

After 18 seasons as a college coach, Wayne graduated to the NFL, joining the the New Orleans Saints in 1995. He coached them for two seasons. He then spent 12 years (1997-2008) coaching the Defensive Line for the San Diego Chargers and has been with the Broncos for the past three seasons.

The D-Line may be in good hands with Mr. Rodgers, but we are going to miss that baritone battlecry, "Nobody runs on the Denver Broncos!"

With Wayne Nunnely retiring, Jay Rodgers — who spent the past three seasons as a defensive assistant with the club, including working primarily with Nunnely and the defensive line in 2011 — now takes over as the club’s defensive line coach. The 35-year-old Rodgers is entering his fourth year with the Broncos and is the younger brother of special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, who begins his second year in that position for Denver.

"I’m excited for this opportunity,” Rodgers said. “I am extremely grateful to Coach Nunnely for all I’ve learned from him over the past three seasons."

Rodgers is in his fourth season with the club after working nine seasons at the collegiate level.

"The defensive line will be in good hands with Jay Rodgers, whom I’ve worked with very closely for the last three years,” Nunnely said. “He is very deserving of this opportunity, which he has earned through his hard work and knowledge. Jay has many great qualities as a person and coach that will make him successful in his new role."

Head Coach John Fox said he has no doubt that Rodgers’ time with Nunnely "has prepared him for this opportunity that he has earned," and defensive end Elvis Dumervil agreed.

"He’s a young, bright coach," Dumervil said of Rodgers. "He knows a lot — he’s been around. I think he’s extremely smart. He’s learned a lot from Coach Nunnely as well and I think his future is bright. It was very fortunate to be able to have Coach Rodgers on staff and get him in. But, also sad to have Coach Nunnely retire."

The Broncos will be back on the practice field this coming Monday for OTAs.

Photos of Nunnely during his time with the Broncos

Nunnely will be missed ~ Aussie.


  1. I think this is a bit fishy, who retires to spend more time with their wife? :P

  2. John Elway envisions second-rounder Brock Osweiler as the Broncos' quarterback of the future.
    "Sometimes you have to sacrifice the short term for the long term to draft a guy that you believe can be that next guy for you, and that's Brock," said Elway, referencing Osweiler's "tremendous amount of upside." Elway believes the Broncos got "great value" with the 57th overall pick in the draft. We may have to wait 3-4 years to find out if he's right.

    Rams signed LB Mario Haggan

  3. So much for only having plan A.

    Hopefully Haggan can do good things with the Rams. He is a top bloke.

  4. Geez... and the hits just keep on comin. This is almost getting humorous. Only nonstop drama like this would happen to Denver lol

    I only work all day on Friday's and Saturday's. Sun, Mon & Thurs are really short hours and one of my paychecks is about the cost of ONE ticket and I'm trying to get 2??

    I'm a girl, we make time to spend money lol :p Its a God-given natural gift haha

  5. Yeah this will be a loss, I thought it was interesting to note that we have the Rodgers brothers on our team.

    Really, damn that sucks, you may need to pick up more shifts to make enough. Or maybe Jimmy pays for his own haha.

    I figured, what was the last (useless) thing that you bought?

  6. Maybe I will pick up more hours, I'll figure something out. Somehow, someway I will get those tickets & we will go to that game

    lol I spend money but not aimlessly. Can't think of anything that I've bought that's completely useless. I spend more on clothes than anything else lol

  7. Speaking of the game, do they allow cameras (like small digtial ones) in the ground. I was wondering Princess if you would take some photos and do a post up on your experience at the game. I personally would appreciate that since I will probably never get within 1000 miles of the place.

    Clothes = useless. Haha, you only need one set of clothes for a few days, then you clean them and all set again haha. Need lots of undies though.

  8. They sure do, was planning on taking pictures. Could actually just take pictures with my phone, download them to my laptop and go from there. Really easy. Don't want to carry a camera around with me. Might even get to see what he looks like... maaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyybeeeeeee

    If we end up going, we're gonna pack as light as humanly possible. Since we fly for free we have to dress up a little bit cause we represent the airline when we fly so we can't just go with our jerseys on. We'll have to change so might try and share a backpack cause you can take that to the game. Worst case scenario, after the game we may get stuck in Denver overnight & will either camp out at the airport or will have to stay at a hotel in the city. I hope we don't, just more money neither one of us wants to spend unless he really wants me to show him the city that bad... doubt it though.

    Your biggest problem to seeing a game would be getting plane tickets. Coming all the way from Australia, that's gonna be EXPENSIVE!!! Thousands of dollars. Tickets for the game are about the average price of one plane ticket, a couple hundred.

    Clothes = necessary mister!! lol Girls need variety, unlike men who wear the same shirts every week as if we never saw them the week before LOL

  9. Ok cool that would be sweet and a picture of lover boy would be great :P haha

    Sounds like you have a solid plan there. And yes tickets from Australia to the US are crazy expensive.

    Clothes are a necessary but I bet there are clothes in your wardrobe that you have never even worn :P

  10. In other Bronco news, Rod Smith is in the Ring of Fame!

    And we signed Omar Bolden our 4th round pick.

  11. Oh and Doom has made it into the top 100 players of 2011