Jordy Nelson is quietly having a breakout season. Through just nine games, the yards-after-catch king out of Kansas State has already set new career highs in receiving yards (633) and touchdowns (seven). He’s become Aaron Rodgers’ second-favorite target and has been a monster in the red zone.
As a result of his rise — which started when he was arguably the Packers’ best receiver during last year’s Super Bowl run — Nelson’s getting standard feature treatment. He’s finally become a household name, and we’re learning more about him.
For instance, he’s white.
Now, that’s not something we’d ordinarily point out. For one thing, it’s obvious. Secondly, it’s irrelevant.
Or is it?
There’s a joke in the receivers meeting room that Nelson benefits by being the only white receiver on the team because perhaps opposing defensive backs don’t take him seriously.
“Honestly, I think it is (a factor),” Nelson said. “As receivers, we’ve talked about it. I know (cornerbacks coach) Joe Whitt tells me all the time, when all the rookies come in, he gives them the heads up, ‘Don’t let him fool ya.’ That’s fine with me.”
“A lot of it has to do with the fact that guys look at him say, ‘OK, yeah, he’s the white guy, he can’t be that good,’” said teammate Greg Jennings, who is black. “Well, he is that good. He’s proven to be that good, and it’s because of the work and the time that he’s put on not only on the field but in his preparation off the field.”
Strange. If guys are studying tape or watching games, they’d have noticed that Nelson has been one of the most productive receivers in football dating back to last December. I might be able to understand defensive backs letting a white receiver like Nelson fool them in pickup games, but I have a hard time believing that there are players covering Nelson, now in his fourth season, and being surprised by his speed and overall athletic ability.