By Matthew Tabeek
"This whole structure here – the positivity, the energy, then with Thomas and Scott’s background of accountability and attention to detail. The energy just feels a lot different. It was kind of refreshing when I walked in the door here."
Joel Collier was born into a football family. And the countless coaches and players who surrounded him growing up were in many ways like his extended family.
Football really is in his DNA.
And keep in mind that Collier, the Falcons’ director of pro personnel, isn’t the son of just any football coach, either.
His father is Joe Collier, the former Buffalo Bills head coach, who is best known for his time as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos from 1969 to 1988 and is considered to be the architect of the “Orange Crush” defense of the late 1970s.
And while Collier’s father was helping guide the Broncos to multiple Super Bowl appearances, he was right in the middle of it all as a kid, even serving as one of the Broncos’ training camp ball boys for five years.
Looking back, Collier says that he “kind of lucked out” with his father being an institution in Denver for two decades. After all, it’s extremely rare for a coach’s child to go from kindergarten to their senior year of high school in the same school district, like Collier did.
“In a way, you become a football brat, like Army brats, because in this business there’s so much moving around,” Collier said.
Even though so many coaches – and their families – would eventually come and go, that was the nature of the profession. Regardless, there was just something about coaches, even at an early age, that made an impression on Collier.
“It wasn’t so much that the game was in me, but it was the relationships that I saw that my dad had – especially with coaching staffs, secondarily with the players – and I was impressed with the integrity of the people in coaching,” Collier said. “Coaches tell it like it is. And I enjoyed that kind of personality and as a kid, I just gravitated toward that. And it was tons of fun being around the players, too.”
In short, football people were his people.