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Nathaniel Hackett pursuing his Ph.D. in football

By Jay Skurski

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett just turned 33 years old.

The majority of those years, however, have been spent in locker rooms. With long-time coach Paul Hackett as his father, Nate's been a student of the game since his formative years.

"When I was 8 years old, I remember being a ball with the Dallas Cowboys, just being in awe of Tom Landry," Nathaniel Hackett said today, in his first meeting with Bills reporters. "I've just always been around the players."

Hackett handled himself well in talking with reporters. The answer he gave to the first question asked of him lasted 690 words.

"I think the big thing is, you have to always want to learn. You have to be a historian of football," he said. "Technology these days, I can go back and look at 1984 cut-ups in black and white and try to learn how plays evolved. Watching the K-Gun from Jim Kelly from when I was here [as offensive quality control coach in 2008-09], looking at all that video. Joe Montana playing, who's a friend of our family, I mean you look at all those different things. You just want to keep pushing yourself to learn and learn. Almost like get your Ph.D. in football. I think that's something I've been very lucky to be a part of and be able to gain that experience through that time."

Hackett's first job in the NFL came with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under coach Jon Gruden, as offensive quality control coach in the 2006 and '07 seasons.

"My two years there, they were very extreme. I like to think about it as it was the Harvard of football," he said. "When you're there and you have two years of NFL experience, I mean, it's amazing.  The amount of pass drawings I drew, I want to say I drew up about 15,000 pass plays.

 "Then going to the Bills, I got an opportunity to work with protections, with all kinds of different things, run game. As a quality control guy, a lot of people say, 'What is that?' I kind of looked at it as a coordinator in training, because you're responsible for making sure every single thing is perfect, from scripts, schedules, all the drawings.

"You can't just know the pass game. You can't just know this technique or that technique. You have to understand how the line works, how they draw things, how they're going to be looked at. Because if you draw something wrong, they're going to look at you and say, 'Well, that line was right there. That's what you wanted me to do.'

"So I think when you're doing that and you're doing that every week, watching all the film, breaking it down, getting everything ready, you understand the pressure to get it ready for those coaches. I think that just leads you into this kind of a role."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | [email protected]


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | [email protected]


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | [email protected]

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