GREEN BAY – Head Coach Matt LaFleur has hired Jerry Gray to be the Packers’ new defensive backs coach.
Gray replaces Jason Simmons, who left Green Bay to join the defensive staff with the Carolina Panthers.
Gray comes to the Packers from the NFC North rival Vikings, where he spent the past six seasons in a similar position.
Here are five things to know about Gray:
1. Green Bay is his seventh NFL coaching stop and sixth different team.
Gray’s NFL coaching career, all on the defensive side, began with Tennessee in 1997, starting in a quality control position before a promotion to defensive backs coach in 1999. He then moved on to Buffalo (2001-05), Washington (2006-09), Seattle (2010), back to Tennessee (2011-13) and then to Minnesota (2014-19) when Mike Zimmer took over as head coach of the Vikings. He’s been a defensive coordinator twice, with the Bills and on his second go-round with the Titans, otherwise he’s coached in the secondary.
2. He coached two of the best DBs in the league with the Vikings.
Minnesota safety Harrison Smith and cornerback Xavier Rhodes were both named first-team All-Pro in 2017, and the pair combined for eight Pro Bowl selections with Gray as their position coach. They were first-round draft picks in the two years prior to Gray’s arrival in Minnesota.
3. He was a first-round pick and Pro Bowl defensive back himself.
Drafted with the 21st overall selection in 1985 by the Rams, Gray missed just 10 games total over nine years with the Rams (1985-91), Oilers (1992) and Buccaneers (1993). He played in 134 games with 103 starts and was named to four straight Pro Bowls from 1986-89. He finished in the top 10 in the league in interceptions three times, snagging 28 picks in all in his career and returning three of them for touchdowns. He earned a Pro Bowl MVP award when he returned a pick for a TD in his last appearance in the annual all-star game.
4. He enjoyed a Hall of Fame college career and got into coaching in his home state.
Gray was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013, having been named a two-time consensus first-team All-American and two-time Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year at Texas. Gray ranked second in school history with 16 interceptions when his career with the Longhorns concluded. A native of Lubbock, Texas, Gray’s first coaching job was at Southern Methodist, working with SMU’s defensive backs in 1995 after he took a year off following the end of his pro career.
5. He scored a touchdown against the Packers at Lambeau Field.
One of Gray’s three pick-sixes in his NFL career came in the 1988 opener (Sept. 4) as the Rams beat the Packers, 34-7, at Lambeau Field in Lindy Infante’s Green Bay coaching debut. On the final play of the third quarter, Gray intercepted a Randy Wright pass and returned it 47 yards for the score to give the Rams a 31-0 lead. It was one of the Packers’ seven turnovers on the day.