The Broncos officially have their next head coach in Nathaniel Hackett. To learn more about the team's 18th head coach in franchise history, here are five things to know about him and his path to Denver:
1. His father was a longtime NFL and college coach
Nathaniel's father, Paul, led a 41-year coaching career, including 23 seasons in the NFL for the Browns, 49ers, Cowboys, Chiefs, Jets, Buccaneers and Raiders. Like his son, Paul specialized in working with offenses; he was the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs and Jets late in his career. At the NFL level, Paul worked with all-time greats like Joe Montana, Marcus Allen and Curtis Martin.
As a kid, Nathaniel served as a ball boy for the teams his father coached, forming unique memories. He recalled moments playing catch with Montana, folding towels with Allen and carrying pads for Derrick Thomas. He learned the most, however, from Chiefs punter Louie Aguiar, who would enlist him as a long snapper at times. When the Chiefs needed someone to snap to kickers at tryouts, Nathaniel was their man. And when Nathaniel played college football at UC-Davis, that skill came in handy when they needed a long snapper.
2. He chose a career in football over a career in medicine
As a neurobiology major at UC-Davis, Hackett had two great choices for his career paths.
"I don't want to shoot myself in the foot and say I won't go into coaching," Hackett told the Sacramento Bee in 2001. "Right now, it is 50-50 to either coach or go to work in medical research. I have fun in the classroom, learning the things I am learning. But as soon as class is out I think, 'Yeah, I get to go to football.'
"I guess when I make a decision it will boil down to which one I will miss the most not doing. Football has been such a big part of my life. I just don't know right now what I will do after I graduate."
Later, he said the element of fun would prove to be the chief reason for his ultimate career path.
3. Hackett's energy is his trademark
When Hackett first joined the Jaguars, Florida Times-Union reporter Vito Stellino described Hackett as someone who "acts as if every day is Christmas morning." Hackett realized that, he said, after he had his first child.
"I was like, 'Man, is this what I was like as a kid?' and my wife said, 'That's what you are now,'" Hackett said. "I said, 'OK, thank you.' It's just a way of life."
Over the years, that energy has come through in a number of ways. He told the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala that at one point he wanted to be a backup dancer for Janet Jackson or Justin Timberlake.
That "infectious energy," as Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has called it, also comes across naturally in his teaching methods as he works tirelessly to keep players engaged and inject fun into what can became routine.
"It's understanding that every player has different motivators and everybody can respond differently to coaching, and figuring out what those buttons are on certain people to push to get the most out of them," Rodgers told. "That's what he does really well. He disarms guys and makes them feel really comfortable, and then he's really good at teaching the game."
4. He helped the Jaguars offense to reach the 2017 AFC Championship
When Jacksonville hired Hackett as their quarterbacks coach in 2015, their primary goal was to develop former third-overall pick Blake Bortles as he entered his second NFL season. The jump was swift; he threw 24 more touchdowns and only one more interception than the year before.
In 2016, the Jaguars made a midseason coaching change, which resulted in Hackett's promotion to offensive coordinator. In his first full season in that role, his offense helped propel Jacksonville to the AFC Championship Game.
The Jaguars ranked fifth in scoring offense and first in rushing offense, and coupled with a dominant defense, Jacksonville won the AFC South. After topping the Bills in a low-scoring wild-card round, Hackett's offense outdueled Pittsburgh's third-ranked group in a 45-42 shootout, which was the fourth-highest-scoring playoff game in NFL history.
View photos from Nathaniel Hackett's NFL coaching career.
5. He helped the Packers' passing attack reach new heights
Since joining Green Bay in 2019, Hackett has helped put in place one of the league's most dominant offenses. In each of the past three years, the Packers have ranked in the top 15 in scoring, including a top ranking in 2020.
Green Bay's passing offense has been even better; since 2019, the Packers lead the league in cumulative passer rating as they've thrown the fewest interceptions. The next closest team has thrown nine more picks.
Rodgers, naturally, has been at his best in that time, as well. He was named a first-team All-Pro in each of the past two seasons and could be headed for his second MVP award. Since 2019, Rodgers has racked up an incredible 111 passing touchdowns to just 13 interceptions.
"He's been around the game a long time," Rodgers said in January. "What he did in Jacksonville, I think, was pure magic, getting them within a quarter of the Super Bowl. He's a great coach. I love spending time with him. He's a fantastic teacher. He's incredible in front of the room."