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Sam Seale nailed reports on Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Davante Adams, Kenny Clark

Packers’ longtime scout honored with Bob Harlan Leadership Award

Sam Seale
Sam Seale

Sam Seale, whose eye for talent has contributed to the selection of several shining stars over the Green Bay Packers' 32-year and counting run of success, has been selected as the 2024 winner of the Bob Harlan Leadership Award.

Seale, the Packers' National Scout, will be honored at the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame banquet on Aug. 29, 2024.

The Harlan Award is given to someone who has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities and contributed to the betterment of the organization throughout their time with the Packers, while also serving with the integrity, character and determination emblematic of the former team president for whom the award is named.

In 1995, Seale was hired as a Packers scout by general manager Ron Wolf and is part of a small fraternity in the player personnel department to have served under Wolf and his three successors as general manager: Mike Sherman, Ted Thompson and Brian Gutekunst.

Seale started as a college scout covering the Southwest territory, then was assigned to the West Coast in 1997. He was promoted to National Scout in 2018.

Over Seale's 29 seasons with the Packers, they have compiled a 296-169-2 record for a winning percentage of .636, second best in the NFL during that period. They also have won two Super Bowls and 15 division titles.

The list of Packers picks that Seale went to bat for in pre-draft meetings includes quarterback Aaron Rodgers; linebacker Clay Matthews; wide receiver Davante Adams, a second-round selection in 2014; and defensive tackle Kenny Clark, No. 27 overall in 2016.

"Sam is fantastic," said Gutekunst, who was named GM of the Packers in 2018 and promoted Seale shortly thereafter. "He's a really good scout. He does it his own way. Great personality, played with the Raiders when they were very good. But Sam has a unique ability to get to know players. What makes them tick. He has always been able to talk to players in a way where he can discern what they're made of. He's got a gift that way."

Before the 2005 draft, Seale had the top two quarterbacks in the country in his territory: Alex Smith of Utah and Rodgers of California. San Francisco took Smith No. 1 overall, while Rodgers surprisingly slipped until the Packers grabbed him at No. 24. But on Seale's scouting reports, he gave a higher grade to Rodgers than Smith.

"He had a really high grade on Rodgers," said Gutekunst. "Sam's opinion was part of Ted's decision, I'm sure."
Five years later, when Matthews came out of Southern Cal, there was a wide range of grades on him from first round to high mid-round. Among those who filed reports within the Packers organization, Thompson and Seale were the two that gave Matthews a first-round grade. The Packers traded up to select Matthews, who will be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame the same night that Seale will be honored, with the 26th pick.

"Sam had what we call a difference-maker grade on him," said Gutekunst.

It was a tip from Seale that also alerted Gutekunst, when he was director of college scouting, to take a look at Adams on a scouting trip to Fresno State.

"Derek Carr was the quarterback that year," said Gutekunst. "I went out to look at the quarterback more than anything, and Sam said when you're there, 'Make sure you look at this receiver.'"

In Clark's case, when he came out of UCLA, he had no bigger advocate in the Packers' draft meetings than Seale.

"Sam was the West Coast scout and he really liked Kenny," said Gutekunst. "(Clark) was a really young guy, but such a strong athlete for a guy who was 20 years old at the time."

Seale's background work on quarterback Jordan Love, when he was at Utah State, also was instrumental in Gutekunst's decision to trade up and draft him at No. 26 in 2020. Seale grew fonder of Love over the Packers' pre-draft meetings when they finalized their ratings and was on board with the choice.
Seale played collegiately at what was then Western State College in Gunnison, Colo. A star running back there, he was drafted by the then Los Angeles Raiders in the eighth round in 1984 and converted into a defensive back. Seale played 10 years in the NFL, five with the Raiders and five others with the San Diego Chargers and Los Angeles Rams.

Two years after his final season, Seale was hired by Wolf to become a college scout following a breaking-in period. Wolf worked for the Raiders when Seale played with them. At that time, Wolf said he hired his scouts based on their film evaluations of four random Packers players during the interview process.

"We had this system that we designed and altered during my time there," said Wolf. "Can you evaluate football players? Most people can't do it. Sam had an ability not so much writing a report but to tell you what he saw. So many people try to B.S. you. He was truthful. Can he play or can't he play? He wasn't right all the time, but he didn't miss many."

In 2017, Seale was named NFL Scout of the Year at the Fritz Pollard Alliance meeting.

"I'm really proud of what he has accomplished," said Wolf.

This latest award's namesake, Harlan was CEO of the Packers from 1989-2008, when the team emerged from a 24-year famine to become a league power, and Lambeau Field was basically reconstructed without losing its character.

Previously, Harlan was an administrator in the organization from 1971-89.