After interviewing with the Green Bay Packers, University of Wisconsin football defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard has announced he will stay a Badger, and turned down an offer to coach at the NFL level.
The announcement came Friday night in a Zoom conversation between Leonhard and Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur.
Leonhard was a frontrunner for the defensive coordinator position with the Packers, who recently let go of Mike Pettine after a disappointing season for the Packers’ defense that was capped with several big plays in the team’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game.
Leonard had many enticing reasons to choose to join the green and gold, which is why his announcement to return to UW was a surprise to fans everywhere.
Leonhard is a Wisconsin native who grew up a die-hard Packers fan. An offer to coach at the next level — specifically for the Packers — was one that many thought to be irresistible to the young coach.
“It was me choosing UW. I want to stay at UW,” Leonhard told the Wisconsin State Journal. “I want to be at this level right now. Extremely flattered. Awesome opportunity. But it was not the right time for me to go back to the NFL.”
The father of three sons, Leonhard also had to consider what was best for his family in his decision, as taking the Green Bay job would have forced the family to leave their Madison roots and move two and a half hours north to the Green Bay area.
Without their top pick to fill in at defensive coordinator, the Packers will return to their talented application pool in search of the perfect replacement. Ejiro Evero, the safeties coach for the Los Angeles Rams, is believed to be the current favorite for the position.