Rebel Alum, Former Head Coach Retires From NFL

May 14, 2012

LAS VEGAS ( - The Denver Broncos announced Monday that UNLV alumnus and former Rebel head coach Wayne Nunnely has retired from coaching after 36 years, including the last 17 seasons in the National Football League.

Nunnely, who played running back at UNLV from 1971-72 and later worked as an assistant coach, became the first Rebel football player to take over as head coach of the team in 1986. The first black head coach on the West Coast and just the fourth in NCAA FBS history, he led the program for four seasons and finished with an overall record of 19-25. His first campaign included a memorable 17-7 win over Wisconsin at a sold-out Sam Boyd Stadium en route to compiling a 6-5 mark that fall.

After four seasons leading the Rebels, he worked for one year as UNLV's director of minority student affairs. Nunnely soon returned to the sidelines, however, coaching running backs at USC in 1991-92 and then defensive line at UCLA in 1993-94 before beginning his long NFL career.

"It has been an absolute dream come true for me to coach for 36 years," Nunnely said in a statement released by the Broncos. "I am so thankful for all the opportunities I have been given to have a positive impact on others through the game of football. More than anything, I am proud of the accomplishments of the teams and players I have been so privileged to work with over the years.

"This was not an easy decision, but it was the right one for me and my family. At this stage of my life, I want to devote more time to my wife, Velda, and the rest of our family. They have been with me every step of the way through an incredible career that I've been so blessed to enjoy. The NFL has a wonderful retirement plan, and it's time for me to begin the next chapter of my life."

Nunnely, 60, served as the defensive line coach for the Broncos the past three seasons after previously working for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2008) and New Orleans Saints (1995-96). He tutored Pro Bowl players such as defensive end Elvis Dumervil (2011), nose tackle Jamal Williams and defensive end Marcellus Wiley (2001) while establishing himself as one of the premier defensive line coaches in the game.

Nunnely began coaching in 1975 as an assistant for Las Vegas' Valley High School after competing in football and track at UNLV. The following season, he was hired as a graduate assistant at his alma mater. Coaching stops at Cal Poly Pomona (1977-78), Cal State Fullerton (1979) and the University of the Pacific (1980-81) preceded his return to UNLV as running backs coach for four seasons (1982-85).

Born on March 29, 1952, in Los Angeles, Nunnely was a football and track star at Monrovia (Calif.) High School. He and his wife, Velda, have three sons (Steven, Channing and Aaron) and one daughter (Amber).