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Tom Clements’ Packers legacy: Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love

GREEN BAY, Wis. — He eats the same thing every day. He nearly won a Heisman Trophy. He won two Grey Cup championships in the Canadian Football League. He practiced law for four years before two historic figures, Lou Holtz and Mike Ditka, brought him into the coaching world. His sense of humor is drier than the Atacama Desert. And his wife is a Hollywood interior designer.

No, Tom Clements has never been in a beer commercial, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers once borrowed a line from a fictional character in one of those ads when he said: “He’s like the most interesting man in the world.”

Or at least the most interesting man on the Green Bay Packers’ coaching staff.

And Clements also holds this distinction: He is the only person who has directly coached Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love.

At age 70, he is in his second stint as Packers quarterbacks coach, and while he came back last season at Rodgers’ behest, his return might have helped put Love on a path to success.

Clements’ history with Packers quarterbacks goes like this: He was Favre’s quarterbacks coach during his final two seasons in Green Bay (2006-07), worked with Rodgers as either his position coach or coordinator from 2008 to ’16 and then came out of retirement to rejoin him in 2022. He remained on staff in 2023 to help Love transition to the starting job.

When asked what brought him back to Green Bay last spring, Clements deadpanned: “Delta.” As in the airline.

Some — including Packers coach Matt LaFleur — wondered if Clements might fly out of town when it became clear Rodgers would be traded to the Jets this past offseason.

Instead, he stuck around to continue his work with Love, whose improvements have the Packers (6-6) on a three-game winning streak heading into the “Monday Night Football” matchup at the New York Giants (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).

When asked how much longer he sees himself doing this, Clements went deadpan again: “At least through the Giants game.”

LaFleur hopes it’s much longer.

“As far as I’m concerned, if he wants to come back, he can,” LaFleur said in a recent interview with ESPN. “I’d love to have him back. He’s a great person. He’s got great knowledge. He’s a great team guy. The quarterbacks all like him, and they believe in him. They believe he helps their game and gets them better.”

Clements’ task with each of the three Packers quarterbacks was different. When former Packers coach (now Dallas Cowboys coach) Mike McCarthy hired Clements to join his first Green Bay staff in 2006, Favre had thrown 29 interceptions in a 4-12 2005 season that ended Mike Sherman’s tenure as head coach.

In the two years under McCarthy and Clements, Favre reduced his interceptions to 18 in 2006 and 15 in 2007, when the Packers reached the NFC Championship Game. Clements didn’t try to change Favre’s fundamentals. Those were ingrained in him.

“Brett would listen,” Clements said in an interview with ESPN. “He was a coach’s son, so he would try to do it. If it worked for him, great. If it didn’t, then he would do it his way, which was understandable. With Brett, it was just trying to help him perform on Sundays.”

With Rodgers and Love, Clements started from the ground up — quite literally when it came to their footwork.

“I’ve always said if you watch a quarterback’s feet, you can make a good determination whether the throw’s going to be an accurate throw,” Clements said. “Aaron was a perfectionist. He wanted to do it the way we wanted it done, so that’s how that worked.”

Clements did not have as much time with Love, in part because changes in the NFL’s offseason rules limited how much time he had to work with the quarterbacks.

“Jordan’s footwork is really what we’ve worked on, and I think he’s bought into what we’re trying to accomplish, and he’s improved in that aspect,” Clements said. “So we’re working on that, and he’s improved in that area a lot.”

Neither LaFleur nor Love knew Clements personally before last year, but both knew of him because of how often Rodgers raved about him.



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“Tom just understands the little things in the position and, so, every drill is working on one specific thing,” Rodgers said last year upon Clements’ return to the Packers. “And it’s really how I was able to polish my fundamentals and learn how to throw in rhythm and throw on time and not make premeditated decisions — one of the quarterback mortal sins.”

When LaFleur had an opening on his staff following the 2021 season, he wondered if Clements might be interested. Clements was out of coaching following a two-year stint with the Arizona Cardinals (2019-20), when he worked with Kyler Murray during the No. 1 pick’s first two seasons.

So, while LaFleur was in Los Angeles for the NFL Honors event at the Super Bowl, he met Clements at a restaurant near where Clements lives and where his wife runs Clements Design. (Her client list includes Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo, Scooter and Yael Braun, Kris Jenner, Bruno Mars and Jennifer Lawrence, according to Architectural Digest.)

Clements never thought he would coach again after he left the Packers the first time. In 2015, McCarthy made Clements the offensive playcaller only to take the role back late in that season. Clements returned for one more year as the associate head coach/offense before he walked away. He said he tried to get another job following the 2016 season, but nothing materialized.

He returned to Los Angeles and began to work with a friend who had a real estate development company. Two years later, then-Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury called Clements on a recommendation from David Raih, who had worked with Clements in Green Bay and then joined the Cardinals’ staff. After two years in Arizona, where he helped Murray become Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 and a Pro Bowler in 2020, Clements thought he was done.

If he thought he was retired after his first stint in Green Bay, then he was — as he put it — “retired, retired” after the Cardinals.

Clements never even saw himself getting into coaching in the first place. Despite finishing fourth in the 1974 Heisman Trophy vote as Notre Dame’s quarterback, he didn’t get any looks from the NFL right away. So he went to the CFL. After four years in Canada, he got a shot with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1980. He played in one game, completing 7 of 12 passes for 77 yards in an early-season loss to the San Diego Chargers, and then returned to the CFL.

It was also in 1980 when he decided to go to law school part-time. He completed his law degree from Notre Dame in 1986, one year before his CFL playing career ended.

Clements then worked for four years at a law firm in Chicago that handled corporate law.

“The more I did it,” Clements said, “the less I liked it.”

He then inquired about a football job at his alma mater, and sure enough, Holtz hired him to coach quarterbacks. After four years, he got his shot at coaching in the NFL, thanks to Ditka, who had just taken the New Orleans Saints job. The connection there was with Clements’ wife, Kathleen, who worked for Ditka’s charitable foundation when they lived in Chicago.

“I just said, ‘If you ever get back in, I’d love to coach with you,'” Clements said. “And he got back in, and he gave me a call, and the rest is history.”

Eventually, he worked for the Chiefs, Steelers and Bills before he arrived in Green Bay with McCarthy.

“Tom’s probably one of the easiest and most intelligent coaches I’ve ever worked with,” McCarthy said. “So consistent. Same guy every day. He eats the same thing every day.”

Wait, what?

Sure enough, Clements confirmed as much — at least for breakfast and lunch: “Some form of eggs — scrambled or fried — and bacon. Usually just a sandwich for lunch.”

“Tom is super, super consistent, and I think that serves well for any quarterback,” McCarthy said. “I can’t speak on exactly what’s going on there right now, but I think it probably serves Jordan very well.”

Clements would never say whether he saw this coming with Love — the sudden improvement over the past month that has many now believing he is the long-term answer at quarterback — because with Clements it is more about the process than the end result.

“Tom is straight to the point,” Love said. “He’s going to coach you, tell you exactly what you need to hear, coach you by the book. If you’re not doing it right, he’s going to tell you, this is exactly how you need to do it. Tom’s a laid-back guy. He’s going to stay by the book, and if you’re doing a good job, he’ll give you a handshake and tell you good job. But if you’re not doing it right, he’ll let you know as well.”

Those unhappy with Rodgers for how he handled his departure from the Packers might want to consider he left them with a parting gift in Clements that might help the franchise for another decade-plus if Love continues on this current path.

“It’s not a secret; Tom knows what he’s doing,” Packers rookie backup quarterback Sean Clifford said. “Alex [McGough, who’s on the practice squad] and I have talked about it all the time. I feel like I’m getting significantly better with Tom, and that’s just in practice and just off scout team stuff. So it’s awesome. It’s amazing to have him.

“I mean, look at [his résumé]: Brett Favre, one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Aaron Rodgers, still one of the best quarterbacks of all time. And Jordan Love playing at a top-quarterback-in-the-NFL level right now and only getting better every week.”


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