JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback, Episcopal coach and News4Jax sports analyst Mark Brunell is heading back to the NFL, this time as an assistant coach.
Brunell is joining the Detroit Lions as a quarterbacks coach. There, he will work under new coach Dan Campbell and attempt to remake one of the NFL’s worst franchises. Brunell and Campbell were teammates for a season with the Saints when New Orleans won the Super Bowl in 2009.
Brunell joined WJXT Channel 4 in May 2018 and has been a sports analyst with the station since then, writing a Monday Morning Quarterback column and appearing on The Morning Show after every game. “The Mark Brunell Show” has aired on CW17 for four years.
It marks Brunell’s first experience as an NFL coach.
“What drew me to this job was an opportunity to work with our head coach, Dan Campbell. Dan and I were teammates with the New Orleans Saints in 2009, our Super Bowl year,” Brunell said.
“Kept in close contact. He’s a friend of mine. I respect him as a person, respect him as a coach, and just really always kept in touch. And when he reached out not too long ago to ask if I would be interested in coaching with him, I said, ‘absolutely.’ And and so it was really about the relationship that I that I have with with our new head coach up here.”
We’ve know this for a couple days, waited to share out of respect for @M_Brunell8 & his family. We’ve loved having him part of our @wjxt4 & @CW17JAX family and wish he and @sjbrunell all the best in this exciting new chapter. Originally from #Detroit, I’m excited for the @Lions https://t.co/rLcDCUZJe1— Bob Ellis (@wjxt4GM) January 29, 2021
Brunell spent eight seasons at Episcopal, leading the Eagles to the state playoffs three times (2016, 2019 and 2020). Episcopal’s playoff win over Baldwin in 2019 was the first in program history. The Eagles won another two playoff games last season, too.
Brunell played at Washington and entered the NFL as the fifth-round pick by the Packers in the 1993 Draft. He appeared in 193 career games (151 starts) and totaled 32,072 passing yards and 184 passing touchdowns along with 2,421 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns.
The most memorable of his 17 years in the league was a nine-year run with the Jaguars. He came to the expansion team in Jacksonville in a trade with the Green Bay Packers in 1995 and became the best quarterback in franchise history. Brunell was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and was inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars in 2013. He also played with Washington, New Orleans and the New York Jets.
After football ended, Brunell did analyst work with ESPN and helped out with the football team at Providence before he was hired at Episcopal.
Two years after his last NFL game with the Jets, Brunell helped Episcopal build a solid program. He leaves the Eagles with a 50-31 record.
“It’s tough, because the last eight years there have been just absolutely amazing. The opportunity to coach our young men, to be a part of the Episcopal family, that community has been just such a blessing to me and my wife, our children,” Brunell said.
“So, I’m going to miss that dearly. There’s nothing like Friday night’s … as we’ve talked about so many times. But this presented itself and it’s something I felt that, at this time, I couldn’t pass up. But it’s hard leaving the things that I was doing in Jacksonville.”
From a high school perspective, the head coaching change at Episcopal will be the area’s sixth. The Eagles announced later Friday that defensive coordinator Marcus Wells was being promoted to head coach.
Only Menendez has yet to announce a new hire. Interlachen, Middleburg, Palatka and Ponte Vedra have also made coaching changes.
“We are grateful to Coach Brunell for the eight successful years he served as head coach of our football program. During Coach Brunell’s tenure, the Eagles football program advanced to the playoffs three times and won more than 50 games, building our program up to strongest in its history and setting Episcopal up for great success in the years to come,” Episcopal athletic director Andy Kidd said in a release.
“Additionally, several of Coach Brunell’s Episcopal players over the years continued on to play at the collegiate level at top programs. We are thankful to Coach Brunell for his service to our football program and school. We know he is well-qualified for his new responsibilities as he returns to the NFL and wish him every success.”
Brunell has stayed connected to the professional game, helping out with rookie quarterbacks during the lead into the draft. He will work under new Detroit offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.