ever came easy for George Koonce. He had to prove himself every
time, at every level of the game. First in junior college, then
East Carolina, the World League, and finally the NFL. At each
level, George excelled at linebacker, and made those that “took a
chance” on him seem like geniuses. George was not always the
fastest, strongest, or biggest guy on the field, but few players could
match his work ethic, heart, passion, and determination, which made him
one of the top athletes in the 90s.
played next to one of the greats in Reggie White, and together they
helped lead the Packers to a Super Bowl Championship. The same
motivation and drive that George had in the NFL and while here at East
Carolina is still alive and well. George wants to prove once
again that he can take his game to the next level, this time as an
executive in the front office.
will be leaving East Carolina, and like before, it will be for the
Next month he will become the Director of Player Programs, and be
responsible for player development for the Green Bay Packers.
George will be at every practice, team meeting, and all games.
His office will be next to the locker room. He will be
responsible for the players in the game of life. He will assist
and help them with financial, personal issues, continuing education,
and any aspect of their life outside the football field. Too many
NFL players end up with nothing after they leave the league.
George has been as big of a success off the field as he was on it, so I
can’t think of a more perfect fit for the Packers.
saved the money made in the NFL and has reinvested a lot of it back
into real estate here in Eastern NC. He has also invested a lot
with ECU. I cannot think of one former ECU player that has done
more for the Pirate program after his playing days were over than
George Koonce. George is one of the top financial donors to ECU
athletics, and most likely the number one donor as far as former
athletes go, but it is more than just money that sets George
Last year George came back to campus to work in the Athletic Dept as
Special Assistant to the Athletic Director. George played a big
role behind the scenes, and will definitely be missed. George
also completed his Master’s degree in Sports Administration. This
is now his 2nd degree from ECU. The Pirates’ loss is Green Bay’s
gain. George may leave ECU, but ECU won’t leave George! He will
always be a part of this program, and represent the Pirates with pride
wherever he goes.
the ECU athletic administration, as every effort was made to keep
George right here in Greenville, and it almost worked! He had a
very tough decision to make. George had just built a beautiful
new home here in Greenville, and his wife is pregnant. Over the
weekend, ECU officials had stepped up to the plate and responded to the
Green Bay offer with one of their own. Each offer presented
George with tremendous opportunities, but in the end, the appeal of the
NFL, the greatest show in sports, was just too much to turn down.
not surprise me that if within the next 10 years George is a President
or GM of an NFL team. His potential is unlimited. He works
just as hard off the field as he did on it. While at Green Bay,
George will complete his doctorate degree, how does Dr. Koonce
One thing’s for sure; he’ll just want to be known as George.
During a recent trip to Green Bay to interview for this job, a Packer
fan recognized George in Detroit as he was changing planes. The
fan asked George when he was “coming home” to GB. George was also
a guest during a sports radio show in Green Bay before the Super
That interview resulted in many Packer fans sending him cards and
letters. George cannot walk around Green Bay without fans
approaching him. He is still loved, and many wish he could still
play. He was a part of the mid 90’s glory days for the Packers,
and that’s where they all want to be again.
athlete, George Koonce has made a history of overachieving and
proving people wrong. Now, as an executive, I think you will see
the same situation play out, but this time because of his mind and
George and his family the best of luck in his new career, and wish we
could have kept him at ECU. Personally, George has become a great
friend and big supporter of Pirate Radio. Many folks
remember when we first came on the air, and the “George Koonce Show”
was one of the first sports radio shows we broadcasted live from our
studios in the fall of 2003.
be greatly missed by the University and eastern North Carolina, but
most of all by his friends. He is one of the best storytellers I
know, and this will be a great next chapter.