Jay Rodgers, who spent the last three seasons as a coaching assistant on Denver’s defensive staff, was named by Head Coach John Fox as the team’s new defensive line coach.
Please see below for comments by Nunnely, Fox and members of the Broncos’ defensive line as well as biographical information on Nunnely and Rodgers:
“It has been an absolute dream come true for me to coach for 36 years. 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.
“This was not an easy decision, but it was the right one for me and my family. 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.
“The defensive line will be in good hands with Jay Rodgers, whom I’ve worked with closely for the last three years. 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.
“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.”
“Wayne has been an outstanding teacher and mentor for so many players and coaches throughout his career. 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.
“Jay Rodgers has been fortunate to learn from one of the very best. There is no doubt that his time with Wayne has prepared him for this opportunity that he has earned.
“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.”
“He definitely was, in my opinion, a very great coach in this league. 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.”
“He’s a great man and a great mentor off the field as well. 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 and 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.”
“Coach Nunnely is all about perfecting your craft. He’s a perfectionist. He wants you to do everything with technique and just work hard. It’s something he preached to us. All the guys are going to miss him this year.”
Nunnely, 60, served as the defensive line coach for the Broncos the past three seasons after previously instructing the position with San Diego (1997-2008) and New Orleans (1995-96). He tutored Pro Bowl players such as defensive end Elvis Dumervil (2011), nose tackle Jamal Williams and defensive end Marcellus Wiley (2001) while establishing himself as one of the premier defensive line coaches in the game.
His defensive lines contributed to seven seasons in which his teams ranked among the NFL’s top seven clubs in rushing yards per game allowed, including No. 1 league rankings with the Chargers in 2005 (83.4 ypg.) and 1998 (71.3 ypg.).
Last season with Denver, Nunnely coached an entirely new defensive front for the second consecutive campaign in addition to implementing new schematic responsibilities with the defense’s conversion to a 4-3 base. 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.
One of the first African-American head coaches at the Division I-A level during a stint at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas from 1986-89, Nunnely spent 18 years coaching in college before starting his NFL coaching career in 1995 as the Saints’ defensive line coach.
Nunnely began coaching in 1975 as an assistant for Valley High School in Las Vegas after competing in football and track at UNLV. The following season, he was hired as a graduate assistant at his alma mater. Coaching stops at Cal Poly Pomona (1977-78), Cal State Fullerton (1979) and the University of the Pacific (1980-81) preceded his return to UNLV as running backs coach for four seasons (1982-85).
At the time of his promotion to head coach at UNLV in 1986, he was the first African-American head coach on the West Coast along with just the fourth in Division I-A history. After four seasons leading the Rebels, he worked for one year as UNLV’s director of minority student affairs.
He also coached running backs at the University of Southern California from 1991-92 and instructed the defensive line at cross-town rival UCLA from 1993-94 before beginning his storied NFL coaching career.
Born on March 29, 1952, in Los Angeles, Nunnely was a football and track star at Monrovia (Calif.) High School. He and his wife, Velda, have three sons (Steven, Channing and Aaron) and one daughter (Amber).
Rodgers, 35, takes over as defensive line coach after spending the last three seasons in Denver as a defensive assistant, including working primarily with the defensive line in 2011 under Nunnely. A former college quarterback, Rodgers, coached for nine seasons at the collegiate level before joining the Broncos prior to the 2009 campaign.
He instructed Iowa State’s wide receivers from 2007-08 after coaching quarterbacks at Stephen F. Austin University (2005-06) and Missouri State University (2004). Rodgers served as passing game coordinator at Dodge City Community College in Kansas during the 2003 seasons following stints at Louisiana State University (2001-02) and Ohio State University (2000).
In college, Rodgers played quarterback for three seasons at Indiana University, starting 15 games before transferring to Missouri State for his senior year. In his lone season with the Bears in 1999, he was voted team captain and MVP after setting several school single-season passing records.
A native of Austin, Texas, Rodgers attended Austin Westlake High School. His younger brother, Jeff, is entering his second season as the Broncos’ special teams coordinator. Rodgers, who was born on Aug. 29, 1976, in St. Paul, Min., is married to Melissa, and they have a daughter, Avery, and a son, Rock.