George Koonce
Goes to the Next Level… Again!

by Troy Dreyfus

Nothing ever came easy for George Koonce.  He had to prove himself every time, at every level of the game.  First in junior college, then at 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.


George 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.


George will be leaving East Carolina, and like before, it will be for the NFL.  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.


George 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 apart.  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.


Kudos to 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.


It would 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 sound?  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 Bowl.  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.   


As an 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 heart.


I wish 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.


George will 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. 

Troy Dreyfus