PACKERS TODAY:Why Did Jeff Hafley Leave Boston College? ‘It’s the Green Bay Packers’

New Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley feels like a “kid in candy store again” as he’s been able to focus fully on football.



GREEN BAY, Wis. – Why did Jeff Hafley leave Boston College, where he had led the Eagles to a bowl victory in his fourth season on the job, to become defensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers?


Hafley addressed his reasoning during a lengthy opening statement that led off his introductory news conference at Lambeau Field on Thursday. Here it is, slightly edited.


“It’s great to be here. Really great to be here. I’m coming on about a week-and-a-half, hit the ground running. Getting … to why I came, because I’m sure there’s questions on that. A lot of reporters have tried to hit me up and ask about, ‘Why’d you leave? Why’d you leave a head job.’ It really has more to do with this place than anything else.


“And one was Matt (LaFleur). I’ve known Matt for a while. I worked with his brother (Mike), worked with Kyle (Shanahan), worked with Robert (Saleh), worked with guys that he’s known, so I’ve known of Matt. I’ve respected what he’s done. I’ve watched what he’s done here. I think he’s like 56-27. Great coach, great leader, great person, great family man. Those are all really important things for me coming to work for another head coach and leaving head coaching job. So, Matt’s a big reason.


“And then Brian (Gutekunst), watching the talent that he has acquired over the last few years. When I really started to watch the tape, watched the last few draft classes and the job that he’s done and will continue to do going forward, that was obviously very appealing to me.


“When you look at what this team did and the adversity that they overcame early in the season, that says so much, one, about Matt, the organization, the staff and then about the players. A young team, the way they stuck together and really won at the end. When our season ended, watching the playoff games and watching at the end of the season, it was really impressive and that really excited me.


“And then lastly, as a guy that grew up loving football, it’s the Green Bay Packers. This is like the Mecca of the football world to me and probably to most people who grew up loving football. Just being here and driving into Lambeau every day, it still feels surreal. The community, maybe the best fans in all of the world, as well, that made a really, really hard decision – leaving Boston College, players that I loved, staff that I loved, the leadership at the school – it made a really hard decision a lot easier and, ultimately, that’s why I decided to come.


“And now that my head’s finally cleared up a little bit and see things a heck of a lot more clearly than when I was making that decision, there’s no doubt about it that I made a great one. I’m excited to be here, I’m excited to be around all you guys, I’m exciting to be a part of the staff, some of the new guys that we brought in, and I really can’t wait to get going.”


What he didn’t talk about, but eventually got around to, was the opportunity to coach football and get out of the quickly evolving game of college football.


His first year at Boston College was the COVID season of 2020. More permanent challenges that forever changed the landscape of the sport were ahead.


“Then the next year the transfer portal came in, which was like, ‘All right, now I have to recruit players, but I also have to keep the guys that are on my team from leaving.’ There’s no contracts, so you recruit a guy and develop a guy and, all of a sudden, he can leave. And then came paying players, NIL, so it was a storm basically since I got the head job, of things that kept getting thrown at you.


“But you do the best you can and you adapt. Certainly, college football has changed and I do think that — I’m not going to get on a soap box here today — but what I will say is I that do think there needs some things to change.”


In Green Bay, there’s no booster money to lose sleep over. For the moment, it’s football, football and football. His wife and 5- and 8-year-old daughters remain back in Boston, so Hafley has been able to immerse himself in his new job.


“One of the hard parts is my wife and two little girls are home right now,” Hafley said. “So, you take advantage of that and you don’t have to be home because there’s no one to see. So, you just stay here at night and watch film.


“The other thing for me is I’ve probably got to watch more football the last week-and-a-half than I’ve gotten to watch in like four months. As a head coach in college, you’re pulled in so many different directions. I feel like a kid in a candy store again just sitting there and being able to watch on tape. It’s probably one of the most refreshing and clear-minds I’ve had in such a long time. I’m having a blast doing it.”



Gideon Canice

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