Jordy Nelson: He opens up about life on and off the field
The 2015 season is over for the Green Bay Packers after losing an overtime heartbreaker to the Arizona Cardinals Saturday night.
With the Packers suffering a defeat, the sights are now set on the 2016 season, which will once again carry heavy expectations.
Enduring their fair share of misfortune this season, the Packers were devastated by the ACL injury wide receiver Jordy Nelson sustained in a preseason game last August.
The 2014 season was one of Nelson's career-best, hauling in 98 receptions for 1,519 yards, and 13 touchdowns. With high expectations heading into the 2015 season, the unfortunate injury was disheartening for the Packers who were faced with the tough task of trying to replace him.
While being placed on IR, Nelson started to go through the recovery process after surgery, which differed significantly from his normal routine as a player.
With NFL players not receiving much credit for the positives they help create personally, Dove Men+Care launched a program with the idea of hijacking the traditional highlight reel, for the great things players do off the field.
Fans are tuning in to sports broadcasts and programming throughout football playoffs. Yet, throughout halftime reports, countdown shows and game day analysis, only one side of athletes is likely to be most represented. Nearly half of men in the U.S. feel modern masculinity is depicted inaccurately in TV advertising and sports, in part because it is typically the feats of strength on the field that are featured in everything from post-game reports to highlight reels.
This playoff season, Dove Men+Care is challenging the idea that athletes' strongest accomplishments happen on the field by celebrating the heroic impact of football greats in their personal moments. In partnership with Carson Palmer and Jordy Nelson, the global men's grooming brand is unveiling 'Real Strength Highlight Reels,' a fresh take on one of sports' most iconic video properties, to showcase caring moments that define these men as champions.
Fans have known Jordy Nelson to be a class act during his tenure in Green Bay, making him a perfect candidate for the campaign.
I recently sat down with Nelson to talk about the past season and his experiences as a professional athlete, while touching on his personal life and what family, charity and community mean to him personally.
Starting with your health: Training, rehab, everything set to be ready for the start of training camp next season?
Nelson: Yeah, hopefully long before then, but at the end of the day that's the goal and that's when we'll be ready.
One of the things that resulted from the injury was James Jones coming back to Green Bay. He's somebody you're pretty good friends with off the field – talk a little bit about seeing that happen and his play this season.
Nelson: I think it's the first time two negative things turned into a positive thing, with me getting hurt and James getting cut in order for him to come back to play with us. We were glad to have him back and we were giving him a hard time at the end of camp right after I got hurt, that he (should) drop all the balls as possible, so that they (New York) would release him and he could come play with us. But he's glad to be back, his families glad to be back, he's making big plays for us, while being a veteran leader in our room and everything we need to be productive.
How involved have you been with the team this year? Team meetings and working with the wide receivers, how involved are you with those aspects?
Nelson: In the mornings I'm doing my rehab, while they're doing installations of everything and the game plan. These last two months or so, I've been able to go to practice, watch. help out, and just be there, while then I go to post-practice meetings where they watch the practice. I'm a part of it a little bit, and the things I do miss, I wouldn't have much input in anyway. So I am there to watch practice, eye up practice on the film, and then give my little tid-bits and help some guys out, especially with a pretty young receiving corps, I do what I can to help them out.
One of those players has been Davante Adams, who has struggled a bit. What advice have you had for him?
Nelson: Just to continue the grind, everyone can get in a slump, and everyone's had bad games, so you just have to continue to grind each and every day. He's a young kid; everyone I think feels he's a lot older than what he is just because how much he played last year, and with just the understanding that this is still only year number two for him, so he's still learning like any young guy, as he came out early as well.
He just has to continue to grind and to continue to get better; he's good mentally and it was great to see him make some plays here and there, and hopefully that will continue to snowball into positives.
How has your time off affected your personal life, specifically regarding your family?
Nelson: It has a little bit; it's kind of interesting because people think I have time off when I actually spend more time at the stadium now than I did before, just because I go in every day to do rehab instead of getting the days off or benefiting from a shorter day, so I have the same schedule pretty much every day. One thing it has allowed is I get to drive (my son) Royal to school probably four days a week, because I don't have to be in as early, so it has been fun to do that, and be a part of that while having that time to hangout and talk for 10-15 minutes each time.
I read a story a while ago about your bringing some of the receivers back to Kansas, and there was a "whiffle ball" game that your family got going and everybody was involved from your parents, your siblings, and even your grandparents. Can you talk a bit about your family overall, not only your wife and kids, but everybody, and what it means to you?
Nelson: Everything. That's a huge factor with my wife is our lives as a family. We want to get back to it when we're done playing here. All of our family lives around each other, I grew up with both grandparents within five miles and they came and watched everything my brother, sister, and I did, playing sports as an eight-year-old all the way through college, and they even have made a couple games with Green Bay. It's great to be around family and have that support system, being able to lean on each other while helping each other out. Obviously growing up on a farm, and my brother and dad still farming, there's some all-hands-on-deck type things that everyone pitches in.
You can't beat family, no matter how close your friends are, you can't beat family.
What would you consider your most defining moment as father or as a man, that not only has impacted you personally but your playing style as well.
Nelson: I think my most defining moment was probably when my son Royal was born, because you understand there is more important things to life. Your selfishness, if there was any, is gone and the responsibility is heightened.
The joy that a newborn can bring into your family, you can't explain it until you experience it.
By now to have two boys and to have our own family, that I think is my most defining moment, coming to the understanding that obviously being a husband and a father comes way before being a football player. A lot of people after (winning) the Super Bowl always said ,"Your life will change forever," and to be honest with you, it's a lie. At the end of the day, that's the pinnacle of our job, to win Super Bowls, but if that is the pinnacle of your life, then you are in trouble.
You seem to be involved with the community quite a bit through charity work, Could you talk about the impact that has on your life as well?
Nelson: So 'Young Life Green Bay' here is the main charity we're involved with. It's a Christian-based mentoring organization through the Green Bay area schools. It's something we got involved with through a former player, Aaron Kampman and his wife, Linde, who introduced us to Kirk and Amy who lead it here. We just like what they do, the structure of what they do, the purpose of what they do with involving kids, and that's something that I think is big for my wife and I because they're the future. Especially the middle school and high school students, with a lot of things going on involving good or bad influences. So the more positive influences that we can get around them, the better.
So it's been fun, it's been growing with the benefit in the fall and then we do the charity softball game in the summer; it raises a lot of money, but brings a lot of awareness to 'Young Life' which has seen their volunteers growing rapidly, and it's been a lot of fun.
Touch a bit about the logistics of the Charity Softball event.
Nelson: The people involved in the game are the players, we play offense versus defense, and they just sign up based on whoever's around and wants to be a part of it. The guys love it because it just gives us something to do, the fans love it because we are away from football, and we don't have our helmet and shoulder pads on. So (we're) just kinda out there having fun, relaxing and just being ourselves which can be pretty entertaining at times, and like I said it benefits 'Young Life' in Green Bay.
Who is the best softball player on the team?
Nelson: Probably myself, but if you take me out of it ... Richard Rodgers won the home run derby last year with like 24 home runs, so that was pretty impressive.
One of the things you have been able to do is substitute teach this year, and I've got to ask – do the kids just walk in and stare in awe or is it something they are used to?
Nelson: I think it depends on the kid, I think some of them didn't know, some of them knew, some of them, I think, eventually found out.
But it was fun.
I think as a first on both sides, there were a lot of nerves and a lot of unknown but we were able to kinda figure each other out and get into a rhythm of what were were doing and it was fun. I always kinda wanted to be a teacher growing up and it gave me that time to do it for a short period, I think it was like a month or two. It also helped out the school that my son goes to, which I was glad to do, while having fun trying to teach some kids a little math.
So once you got into it, how was Jordy Nelson the teacher? Was he pretty strict or was he let's goof around and have fun?
Nelson: A combination, I think at the end of the day if you're doing your work and getting done what you're suppose to do, we'll have fun; but if you're not getting it done, then we're not going to have any fun. I think that's how I approach daily life, that's how I approach the game, and that's how I approach my kids ... We'll have all the fun in the world if you're accomplishing what you're suppose to accomplish, but the moment you're not behaving at school, you're not doing what you're suppose to do around the house, then the fun is going to go away and we'll have to get a little more serious.
The NFL is going through a difficult time with domestic violence. What are your thoughts on the masculinity issue the NFL is facing right now?
Nelson: I think it's two separate questions. I think what the NFL is facing is they got stuck back-pedaling and they can't keep up.
But with the masculinity thing, the bad thing is you hear about all the negatives, and that's the thing with our job, that's the thing that drives the media, that's what sells and you see it all over the place. A few bad apples can ruin it for everyone, so I think with the masculinity issue there are plenty of guys, especially in our locker room, that have families, and understand their role as an adult, as a father, and as a husband caring for their kids, while understanding that will do more for a son or a daughter than anything.
I remember one of our former players had three daughters, ending up having a son later, but the way he always approached it was he wants his daughters to see the way he acts as a man, and that's what they need to expect from their future husband. So I think there is a lot of great guys in the league that do that, but unfortunately there are a few bad apples that don't, and I think that is the case probably everywhere, but in our business it's promoted a little bit more than the good.
Final question, how excited are you to get back onto the field next season?
Nelson: Extremely excited. It will be interesting how it works out being gone for a year and getting back into a routine again. It will be interesting if it feels awkward, but I look forward to it, and to be playing a few more years before calling it quits and moving on with life.
We would like to thank Dove Men+Care for making this all possible, and you can read Jordy Nelson's full off the field highlight film and profile here.