Jordy Nelson is no longer a member of the Green Bay Packers, and it’s a tough pill to swallow for many fans of the team. Nelson was the quintessential Packer, and it’s going to be difficult to watch the Green and Gold play without him.
As we say goodbye to one of the Packers’ true great players and people, let’s take a look back at the good times that he brought us. In this week’s Walkthrough, we discuss each of our favorite Nelson memories — and the fact that five of us all picked different ones speaks to how good he was.
Evan “Tex” Western
Two distinctly different playoff performances stand out to me as the defining moments of Nelson’s career in my mind.
The first was in Super Bowl XLV -- early in the fourth quarter, the Packers held a 21-17 lead and were driving following Clay Matthews forcing a fumble from Rashard Mendenhall. On second and 10 from the Steelers’ 40, Rodgers threw a perfect pass to Nelson on a slant over the middle...and he dropped it. So what did Rodgers do? He went right back to Jordy on a deeper slant on the next play, and Nelson’s catch-and-run took the Packers down to the two-yard line. They scored two plays later to go up 28-17 and take firm control of the game.
The second example is in the 2016 playoff run. Nelson was knocked out of the wild-card round game against the Giants, taking a helmet to the midsection and suffering broken ribs. But two weeks later -- after Rodgers’ miracle to Jared Cook in Dallas, Nelson suited up for a battered Packers receiving corps in the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta. In what would turn out to be his final postseason game with the Packers, Nelson caught six passes for 67 yards and a touchdown, gutting it out through a brutally painful injury. I’ll never forget what he was willing to sacrifice for the Packers, as that moment exemplified Nelson’s best qualities: his toughness, his selflessness, and his perseverance.
Jonathan E. Barnett
I remember very clearly sitting in my sister-in-law’s apartment in south La Crosse when Jordy Nelson was announced as the Packers selection. It is maybe a little hard to believe it has been a ten year career for him already. My mother even named her little dog Jordy, and she is now quite distraught.
I think all Packers fans have a number a great memories of Jordy on the field. My favorite memory is an off-the-field memory. During a game (though I do not recall which game), the broadcast showed images of the Packers wide receivers doing a team building week at Jordy’s parents’ farm. The photos they shared were the images of James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Donald Driver inseminating cows. It was great to see millionaires doing something like that. He is down to earth and kind. He was the clear heir to the Donald Driver charity softball game and a quiet leader.
Despite a number of long touchdown passes, nifty back-shoulder receptions, and improvised routes when plays broke down, the play that sticks out to me most when remembering Jordy Nelson’s career with the Packers is his Super Bowl XLV performance.
Nelson’s 29-yard first quarter touchdown catch began the scoring for the Packers and got the team out in front early. It was a fine throw from Rodgers in one-on-one coverage with the Steelers’ William Gay and a fine catch from Nelson as he used a hand-check to separate from Gay just as the ball arrived.
Early in the fourth quarter, Nelson also had a 38-yard reception that set the Packers up for first-and-goal and eventually led to another touchdown that put Green Bay up two scores. Nelson almost had the put-away score late in the fourth when Rodgers’ third-and-goal pass sailed just past his outstretched hands. But even then, Nelson finished with nine receptions for 140 yards and a score while earning a Super Bowl ring.
Nelson’s chemistry with Rodgers was always fun to watch and the fan favorite will be missed.
The 2014 week thirteen matchup of the Packers and the Patriots is probably the greatest game that McCarthy and Capers ever coached, but it all would have been pointless if not for the greatest play I’ve ever seen Nelson make. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance that day.
The thing I’ll remember most about Jordy Nelson was his Gumby-like ability of controlling his body to make difficult catches along the sideline. There are plenty of incredible double moves and vintage Nelson bombs off play action that warm my heart when I see the highlights.
But the single play that encapsulates Nelson’s elite skill combined with his reliability is from his breakout 2011 campaign.
The Packers, undefeated, were going to New York to play the eventual Super Bowl champions on the road. With under a minute left and the game tied at 35, Aaron Rodgers had to lead the Packers on the game-winning drive.
After a long pickup to Jermichael Finley, Rodgers found Nelson along the sideline for 27 yards down to the Giants 29, a twisting catch to get both feet in bounds that was so unlikely and difficult, ESPN ran a Sports Science on the play.
It’s everything Nelson was to this team with Aaron Rodgers.