Interview | Jordy Nelson Is Just A Regular Guy, Seriously

Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson had over 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2014 before suffering a season-ending knee injury last fall in the pre-season. While rehabbing, Nelson made the most of his time — farming and hanging out with third graders, ya know, typical stuff for an NFL superstar.

Yup. It’s grassroots actions like this which further creates the local folk-hero status for the small town kid from rural Kansas.

We began talking about this year’s Super Bowl …

CraveOnline: There were several story lines following this year’s Super Bowl. What was the most eye-catching moment to you?

Jordy Nelson: Just the turnovers. A lot of turnovers by Carolina. A lot of opportunities for them to get turnovers from Denver. I think that was the difference in the game. And Denver was able to capitalize on them. Plus their pass rush and ability to get after Cam.

It may be low-hanging fruit, but Cam Newton, you see him react the way he did — I can’t picture a guy like Aaron Rodgers rolling around on the turf after his team makes a bad play. What did you think about Newton and the way he reacted to his loss?

I don’t know. It’s tough. I’ve never been in that position, to lose a Super Bowl. I heard Marshall Faulk talk after Cam’s interview, and he said “the only people who can understand what Cam’s going through are people who have lost the Super Bowl.” … It’s not a great feelin’ at all. Honestly it’s probably about how everyone felt when we lost a big game two years ago at Seattle to go to the Super Bowl. I was short in my interview too. There’s nothing to be said. You lose the game. You get ready to move on to next year. 

In regards to your quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, what’s he like outside the huddle? We see him on TV. We see him try to be comical with his girlfriend on social media. But what’s Aaron like outside the locker room?

He’s great. He’s a normal guy … prankster … just likes to go out and have a good time.

Prankster? Anything in particular he’s ever done to you?

IIIII don’t think to meee … But during training camp in the dorms he pulled some stuff on the young guys in the rooms after curfew. He took pictures of guys from middle school days and high school days, which are always lovely pictures of everyone. So if there’s dirt on ya he finds it and tries to make it public.

What does your middle school picture look like?  

A pretty scrawny, skinny guy. A typical kid who’s probably not weighing very much. Probably pretty small.

You’re 30 years old. I’m 31. I noticed around 29 — ya don’t recover like you used to. My back hurts a lot more. It’s not pretty, not as easy to stay in shape as it used to be. Calvin Johnson just retired. He’s 30. Marshawn Lynch says he’s next. He’s 29. How’s your body feeling right now, now that you’re in your early 30s?

Well obviously it’s different for me because I didn’t play this past year — been on IR all year. The previous year, played all season, probably the best my body’s ever felt … You just gotta try to stay ahead of things, do some preventative things in order to stay healthy … it’s a grind … but if you want to stay healthy and get through the playoffs and make it to a Super Bowl, it’s worth it. 

Are you worried about CTE? Considering all we know about head trauma?

No, not really. I feel great. Obviously I’m eight years in. Right now I think there’s still a lot that needs to be done with that study, get a little bit more in depth.

Nelson making a play against the Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.

I’m from a really tiny town in Illinois. I know you’re from rural Kansas, going to school in Manhattan. Do you think being a small-town kinda guy keeps you grounded while being an NFL superstar?

Absolutely. Growing up in the country on a farm … it’s my roots. I love ’em and I’m never gonna leave ’em. I can learn a lot livin’ out there and workin’ the way we worked as kids to help our families out and provide for them. That’s one thing I think I will always carry … I like to get my kids back on the farm. We go back every summer, spend some time there … Get them that work ethic of discipline and responsibility. There’s so many characteristics you an learn on the farm that I think can carry you a long ways. 

Growing up around corn fields, I had a lot of aspirations as a kid, one of them being an NBA basketball player. I’m 6-2, 180. It didn’t work out for me. Did you always want to be a pro football player or were there other things you wanted to be while growing up?

Growing up as a kid playing sports I think ya always wanted to, who wouldn’t wanna make money playin’ a sport? It was always in the back of my head … But probably the only other things I wanted to do was farm, and teach and coach …. I took an opportunity at K-State, just wanted to give it the best I could and see how good I could get at the game. I took a chance, just took it day by day and tried to get better every year … I never thought I would be able to get eight years in the NFL. I count my blessings.

You seem to have a lot of things that personify you: football player, spokesperson, substitute teacher, Christian, farmer — what is your other biggest passion away from football, aside from your kids. 

Family. That’s where it all begins and where it all ends. I love being around my family. We’re always together … It’s all about being a husband and a father. Raising my two boys, trying to do my best not to screw them up, lead them in the right direction and raise them to be great men. Nowadays, in this society, it’s always tougher. There’s a lot of challenge. I think being a professional athlete brings more challenges. That’s why I wanna bring them back on the farm and allow them to have the same kinda raising I did. 

There’s a lot of fans out there from Green Bay to Manhattan who love Jordy Nelson. Give me something they don’t know yet about you.

I think a lot of it is just how simple my life is. I don’t get into the limelight of the NFL. I don’t do the craziness. I try to keep things simple — just go back to Kansas in the offseason, go back to the farm … Always just hangin’ with family and friends, havin’ a good time.

In regards to your injury, I can only imagine how tough the recuperation process has been and how excited you are to get back on the field, hoping the Packers can make a serious run for the Super Bowl next year.

Absolutely. Sittin’ out the whole year has been an experience. But I think I went through it well — the recovery’s comin’ along great. Lookin’ forward to gettin’ back on the field with the guys. It’s amazing how quick ya miss it. I look forward to bein sore in training camp .. I’m the only player in the NFL lookin’ forward to OTA’s and Mini Camp.

Is there any player on the team you miss the most?  

A lot of the guys — that position you form that bond. Datone Jones, gettin’ him back this year was awesome … Obviously Randall is another guy that I spend a lot of time with and hang with. 

How’s the ACL? How does your knee feel right now? Do you feel close to 100 percent?

Well definitely not 100 percent. We got plenty of time to get to that point but everything is right where it needs to be. We’re runnin’ well … no setbacks. 

What are you doing for Dove Men? 

I’ve been given the great opportunity to work with Dove Men + Care, showing off my greatest highlights. A lot of people hear that and think of my highlights on the field, but we put together a highlight reel of my greatest highlights off the field. Like I said earlier, spending time with my family — since I was on the IR, taking my son to school each morning … I substitute taught for a couple months, I did some 3rd grade substitute teaching, and I spent some time on the farm … How much those things mean to me: family, farmin’ and givin’ back to the community, just showing real strength in what we believe. Caring is the real strength of a man and that’s what we kinda wanna present and show the different side of players in the league.

Josh Helmuth is the editor of Crave Sports. Follow him on Twitter or like the channel on Facebook

Photos: Getty