Packers promote Brinker
Chad Brinker admits he has to sometimes keep himself in check.
There are certain days when the 1998 Martins Ferry High School graduate has to dial himself in from getting caught up in the moment, which can be tough to do, especially when you consider for the past eight years as driven down Lombardi Way to Lambeau Field to work every day.
“I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t realize how special it is to be able to work where I work and do what I do,” Brinker said during a recent phone interview.
As “blessed” as Brinker considers himself, he realizes that maintaining a completely professional approach and realizing he “belongs” is just as important. That’s a skill that he’s honed since he was hired by the Packers as a scout.
“Regardless of where you’re from, these opportunities (to work in the NFL) are very, very rare,” Brinker said.
Even though he’s maintained his approach and has been working with arguably one of sports’ greatest franchies for almost decade, Brinker still finds himself taking it all in.
“There are many mornings when I’ll get into the office (early) and just go sit in the stands at Lambeau Field and kind of take it all in,” Brinker said. “I don’t take a day for granted. This is really, really special. Making it in the NFL is hard because it’s an unforgiving business and that’s one of the things, in my opinion, that makes it great.”
Brinker may have to cut his morning visits to the bleachers of Lambeau short, however. He’s added some responsibilities to his workload. The Green Bay Packers organization recently announced that Brinker’s been promoted to assistant director of pro scouting/salary cap analyst.
The former is an advancement in the realm in which he had been working, but the latter is basically an entirely new position, according to Brinker.
“I didn’t know (the promotion) was coming when it did,” Brinker said. “Like everyone in this, and any, profession, I just wanted to continue to get better what I do, grow and continue to do some great things. I’ve always been taught to work your current job like it’s the last job you’ll ever work.”
Some published reports believe that the salary cap analyst role is an indication of just how highly Green Bay thinks of Brinker.
“It’s different because you don’t see a lot of scouts working on the business side of building a team,” Brinker explained. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to have a pretty big footprint in the personnel side and get to learn the business side. I am excited to take it on.”
With the new role comes many unknowns. As OTAs wind down and with camp just over a month away, Brinker is having to learn somewhat on the fly. And the Ohio University product still doesn’t exactly know what’s in store or how much of his time the new duties will encompass.
“Since it’s new, I think everyone is trying to kind of figure out what it’s going to look like,” Brinker confessed.
Executive Vice President/ Director of Football Operations of the Green Bay Packers Russ Ball has taken Brinker under his wing, basically since his arrival in Green Bay.
“(New GM) Brian Gutekunst and Russ have both been great mentors to me,” Brinker said. “I hold them in such high regard. Russ is one of the guys like I would consider Coach Dave (Bruney) or (former Ohio) Coach Jim Grobb in terms of what he means to me. I am a student now again in terms trying to learn a new side of the business.”
Brinker doesn’t hesitate when asked about his ultimate goal for professional football. He aspires to be a general manager, but realizes that there are only 32 of those jobs. So, absorbing as much as he can and continuing to be dilligent are the top things on Brinker’s to-do-list.
“I am a long way (from being a GM) and have a long way to go,” Brinker said. “I need to see the big picture of the business better than I see it now and prepare to think like a GM. I have to be a good scout first. It boils down to doing all I can to help the franchise win.”
Until that opportunity presents itself, Brinker will continue to do all he can to take in as much as possible. As a pro scout, Brinker monitors basically 10 teams, the Packers and even players not currently under contract.
“We’re trying to make the roster as competitive as you can,” Brinker said. “The bottom of the roster is just as important as the top. We need to create competition in the building.”
Before talking about his new career venture, Brinker spent several minutes talking about his head coach at Martins Ferry, Dave Bruney, who announced his retirement from coaching on May 11.
“It’s weird thinking that Coach Dave isn’t going to be coaching, but he’s given so much to the program, school and community, it’s just remarkable,” Brinker said. “Whether it’s spending time with his grandchildren or helping Zac at Wheeling Jesuit or just spending time with his wife, it’s time for Coach to step away and give back to his family.”
Brinker called Bruney, “a big part” of his success not only on the football field, but in life.
“My family, my father and many coaches have had an influence on me, but none have been bigger than Coach Dave,” Brinker continued. “The success I’ve had in football and in life can be attributed to things I’ve learned from him. I am not sure he recognized that, but it’s special to be a small part of his legacy. Whether you work in football or not, there’s a piece of Coach Dave in every kid who played in that program.”
En route to becoming an OVAC Hall of Famer, Brinker didn’t need much motivation.
“I spent my whole career trying to be the greatest player Coach Dave ever coached,” Brinker continued. “I am not sure if I succeeded, and it doesn’t matter because that’s shallow in comparison to what he’s given me. I’ll never be able to repay him.”
Chad and his wife, Rachelle, celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary earlier this week. Brinker was actually excused from the final day of OTAs, so he and his wife could go on a weekend getaway.
“This organization is built on faith and family,” Brinker said. “It has that feel to it and there’s such a rich tradition and history.”
The couple has three daughters, Madison (6), Kennedy (3) and Abigail (2).