George Koonce

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George Koonce
No. 53
Personal information
Born: (1968-10-15) October 15, 1968 (age 55)
New Bern, North Carolina, U.S.
Career information
College:East Carolina
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at

George Koonce (born October 15, 1968) is an American athlete, athletic director and collegiate fundraiser. A former linebacker in the National Football League (NFL), he served as the athletic director at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee between 2009 and 2010 before continuing his career in higher education.

Early life[edit]

Koonce has said he faced poverty as a child, born in North Carolina. His mother made less than $10,000 per year while supporting four kids. When Koonce found this out, he recalled his mother telling him "We may be broke, but we're not broken." While still encouraging her kids to participate in sports, Koonce said his mother also ensured he fulfilled his school requirements.[1] He has since become an advocate for education, calling education "the great equalizer."[2] During his time in the NFL, he would take college classes during the offseason.[3]

"One thing about football, it is day-to-day, play-by-play. You could be having the greatest season in the world, you never know when that might be the play that you get hurt," Koonce once said. "You have got to plan for those days that you are not playing - my mom and grandma always stressed that I save my money."[4]

Playing career[edit]

Atlanta Falcons[edit]

Koonce was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Falcons out of the East Carolina University, but was waived during the preseason.

WLAF Ohio Glory[edit]

Koonce started at linebacker for the World League's Ohio Glory in 1992.

Green Bay Packers[edit]

He was then signed by the Green Bay Packers before the 1992 season. He played for the Packers from 1992–1999. He was an eight-year starter as the Packers returned to dominance, starting 102 of 112 games. He played all three linebacker positions with the Packers, but injured his knee in the playoffs and – although he traveled with the team when they won Super Bowl XXXI – did not play in the big game.[5] He was suited up for all three games in the playoffs the following season, including the Packers' loss in Super Bowl XXXII, after missing the first 12 games of the preceding regular season.[6]

Seattle Seahawks[edit]

He was signed by the Seattle Seahawks as an unrestricted free agent before the 2000 season, and started all 16 games. After the 2000 season he retired with 720 tackles, 9 sacks, and 5 interceptions in 128 games (118 starts).

He said that, upon finding out his career was over, "it felt like part of me died ... I was completely lost."[7]

NFL statistics[edit]

1992 GNB LOLB 16 10 1.5 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 55 0 5
1993 GNB LILB 15 15 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 108 0 8
1994 GNB RLB 16 16 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 76 27 9
1995 GNB RLB 16 16 1 1 12 0 12 0 0 0 49 25 7
1996 GNB MLB 16 16 0 3 84 1 75 0 1 0 69 28 12
1997 GNB 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 5 0
1998 GNB LLB 14 14 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 42 16 7
1999 GNB LLB 15 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 29 21 6
2000 SEA MLB 16 16 1.5 1 27 1 27 0 1 0 74 23 6
Total 128 118 9 5 123 2 75 0 7 4 507 145 60


Post-playing career[edit]

He was inducted into the National Junior College Hall of Fame in 2000 and also the hall of fame at East Carolina University. In 1999, he founded the George Koonce Sr. Foundation to provide underprivileged children with educational, athletic, artistic and social opportunities to support their development. Koonce's post-career ambitions have been centered around the world of academics. Earning his Master's in Sports Management from East Carolina University and Ph.D. from Marquette University (one of only two players in Packers 100-year history to earn a PhD), Koonce has affectionately become known as “The Doctor of Defense.” He is a member of the NFL Player Engagement Advisory Board and has co-authored a book entitled Is There Life After Football? – Surviving the NFL. Currently, he serves as Senior Vice President of the Office of University Relations at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin where he provides leadership and strategic direction while being responsible for growing awareness and increasing philanthropic support for the university through community and alumni engagement.  Koonce also serves as an on-air personality at Green Bay's CBS affiliate for “Backstage with George Koonce,” and “Locker Room". In 2023, Koonce joined Horicon Bank (Horicon, WI) serving on their Board of Directors.

East Carolina University[edit]

He spent of two years as an Assistant Athletic Director for Development, assisting with fundraising and marketing of the department. He also earned his master's degree in Sport Management in 2006 from ECU.

Green Bay Packers[edit]

He served in the Packers front office as the Director of Player Development for the Green Bay Packers for the 2006 season. Koonce currently serves on the Packers Board of Directors.[9]

Marquette University[edit]

He served as the Senior Associate Director of Athletics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was responsible for fundraising, major gifts, community relations, and student welfare. He joined the Golden Eagles in 2007. He also pursued his Ph.D. in Sport Administration while at Marquette.

University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee[edit]

He was introduced as the new University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Director of Athletics on March 17, 2009, and began his duties on April 1. He was placed on administrative leave in April 2010, and his resignation was announced on June 2, 2010. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, "Koonce's resignation was related to the death of Koonce's wife, Tunisia, who died of cancer last October" and that "the death of Koonce's wife put (him) in the position of being the principal caretaker for his two children, ages 3 and 12."[10]

Marian University[edit]

In 2014, Koonce was hired as the Vice-President of Advancement at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.[11] The university described his job duties as "growing awareness and increasing philanthropic support" within the region.

As of 2023, Koonce had been promoted to Senior Vice President for University Relations. He also led the Dr. George E. Koonce Scholars Program, which helps fund higher education for youth from Milwaukee.[12]

He also was named to board of directors for Horicon Bank.[13]


  1. ^ "George Koonce's Success Story at Marian University". YouTube. Marian University WI. Retrieved 2 February 2024.
  2. ^ "From Poverty to Glory: George Koonce teaches life lesson". YouTube. NBC26. Retrieved 2 February 2024.
  3. ^ "George Koonce's Success Story at Marian University". YouTube. Marian University WI. Retrieved 2 February 2024.
  4. ^ "George Koonce Feature". Green Bay Packers. February 27, 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2024.
  5. ^ "Packers Lose Leading Tackler". The New York Times. January 6, 1997. Retrieved 1 February 2024.
  6. ^ "George Koonce".
  7. ^ "Former NFL Linebacker Finds Life After Football". Associated Press. June 5, 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2024.
  8. ^ "George Koonce".
  9. ^ "Packers Executive Committee & Board of Directors". Green Bay Packers. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  10. ^ "Koonce resigns as UWM athletic director". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Former Packers linebacker is executive at Marian University". Star Tribune. March 22, 2014. Archived from the original on March 22, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
  12. ^ Wegner, Mara (December 2, 2023). "Marian University's Dr. George Koonce selected for Black Excellence Award, and more news in weekly dose". The Fond du Lac Reporter. Retrieved 1 February 2024.
  13. ^ "Marian University: George Koonce a natural fit with Horicon Bank Board". Wisconsin Business. 28 July 2023. Retrieved 1 February 2024.