NMU connections to NFC Championship Game
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, who will lead the Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, came from humble beginnings in the GLIAC, including a season as an offensive assistant coach at Northern Michigan University.
Born Nov. 3, 1979, in Mount Pleasant, LaFleur played quarterback at Saginaw Valley State for three seasons, from 2000-02. He coached quarterbacks and wide receivers at NMU in 2006, which was Bernie Anderson's first season as the Wildcats' head coach.
Anderson says LaFleur showed the commitment and drive of a great coach.
"He was a great coach to have on staff," said Anderson. "He was always around the office. He asked if you ever needed any additional help. He was very good with the assistant coaches. He was very good with the players. He was fun to have."
In 2007, LaFleur served as the offensive coordinator at Ashland (Ohio) University, and then landed his first NFL coaching job when the Houston Texans hired him in 2008 to be an offensive assistant. The Packers gave LaFleur his first head coaching job a year ago.
"To me it wasn't a surprise to see him move as the head coach of the Packers, simply because I thought his personality and his demeanor and his people skills were a nice fit for a franchise like the Packers," said Anderson.
Anderson, a Packers fan as well, added that he hasn't asked Coach LaFleur for tickets yet, but might have to if the team makes it to the Super Bowl.
There's another NMU connection in the NFC Championship Game. San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh played football at NMU.
A native of Dearborn, Saleh started at tight end for four years, from 1998-2001. Saleh, in his 15th NFL season as an assistant coach, interviewed for the Cleveland Browns head coaching job earlier this month.