Returning to the field this fall following an ACL tear that kept him out of the entire 2015 NFL season, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson is all set to make up for lost time. On the road back to full strength, the seven-year veteran and pro-bowl playmaker went through an arduous, year-long recovery process. Try as it did, though, the setback couldn’t keep Nelson from finding a way to continue to benefit the Packers. What his trials and tribulations over the past year revealed were the true Character and Role Model in Nelson, as manifested through his unwavering commitment to team, family, and community.
Loyalty and dedication are terms often thrown around or rendered cliché. Nelson is the real epitome of both – he just wouldn’t let you know it. He undoubtedly means an awful lot to Packer faithful, yet he means just as much to the place that saw him blossom into a superstar: Kansas State University – the reason being he continuously returns to his roots and flawlessly represents what the area is all about (although football ability certainly doesn’t hurt).
Born in Manhattan, Kansas, home of the Kansas State Wildcats, Nelson grew up working long, tough hours on the family beef and grain farm just 16 miles northwest of Manhattan in Riley, Kansas. Instilled at a young age was the importance of hard work, teamwork, and responsibility. To this day, Nelson returns to the farm every summer to help his brother harvest the wheat and feed the cattle. It’s that same commitment, passion, and work ethic that saw Nelson transition from a walk-on safety to an All-American wide receiver at Kansas State. Needless to say, the Wildcat community and Riley County have rallied behind him in a big way.
Following his NFL career, Nelson plans to work on the family farm again. In the meantime, he returns home and gives back whenever he can. For Kansas State Univeristy, this means money donated toward athletic facility renovation, which led to the appropriately named Nelson Family Locker Room in 2015. Emphasis on Family. And for the surrounding community, this means serving as a substitute 3rd-grade teacher at his son’s elementary school while recovering last season.
He also started both the Nelson Family Community Foundation as well as the annual Jordy Nelson Charity Softball Game in 2014. With the Packers, his generosity and caring nature can similarly be seen in spades. Despite sitting out last year, Nelson stayed in Green Bay throughout the season, where he attended all team and position meetings in addition to games and practices. There, he frequently engaged with younger receivers, helping them to improve their routes, knowledge, and chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
As Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery said, “He’s a guy, if I ever had questions, I would always go to him. He’s very approachable and he works very hard in practice. So not only is he a leader by example, but he’s also a very approachable leader. A guy you can talk to.” Head coach Mike McCarthy echoed those same sentiments by saying “Jordy Nelson is a key member of our football program – both on the field and off the field. Probably more so off the field. I mean, Jordy is a great player. He’s tremendous in the locker room. He’s a tremendous family man.” Emphasis again on family.
My #RealStrength comes from more than football.
— Jordy Nelson (@JordyRNelson) January 31, 2016
For Nelson, it all comes full circle and all starts with a solid foundation – family. Regardless of where he’s gone, that cornerstone has followed and left a profound impact on those around him. Some may see team, family, and community as three disparate entities, but not Nelson. His down-to-earth demeanor, unyielding dedication, and genuine concern for others have proven to be powerful vehicles for showing that team, family, and community can be one and the same. His guidance may come with a quiet voice and his celebrity may come with a humble reluctance to be seen in the spotlight, yet make no mistake about it – Nelson is a leader and one that few can outdo.
Follow Jordy Nelson on Twitter @JordyRNelson
Written by Athlete CRUSH Staff
Posted 2 September 2016