Jordy Nelson is the only white wide receiver on the Green Bay Packers roster. And besides just being a minority in the team's receiver corps, he's also a minority when it comes to being a receiver in the NFL. And for Nelson, that's just fine -- according to him, it even helps him.
In an interview with the Green Bay Press Gazette this week, Nelson was asked if his race helped him on the field, the idea behind the question being that many opponents underestimate his athletic ability because of his skin color. His response?
“Honestly, I think it is (a factor),” Nelson told Rob Demovsky. “As receivers, we’ve talked about. 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.”
Fellow receiver Greg Jennings agrees: "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.’ 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.”
He added: “It’s easy for someone to say, ‘Oh yeah, he’s like one of those other white receivers. He’s not. I’m sorry. He’s not. He knows how I feel about it. Maybe I’m a little biased because he is a teammate, but from watching him day one to right now, totally different player.”
But they're not the only ones. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, an early candidate for league MVP, thinks they're on to something.
On his weekly radio show in Milwaukee, he recalled a conversation he had with defensive star Charles Woodson on the sidelines during the end of the Packers Monday night blowout of Minnesota.
“I was talking to ‘Wood’ in the fourth quarter and he said, ‘When you see Jordy out there, you think, “Oh well, he’s a white wide receiver. He won’t be very athletic.” But Jordy sort of breaks all those stereotypes,’” Rodgers said. “I am not sure why he keeps sneaking up on guys.”
On his radio show Friday, Rush Limbaugh was fine with the trio's take.
"This is Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings and Aaron Rodgers agreeing that there's a stereotype in the league that the white guys aren't as fast and Jordy Nelson is -- he's able to sneak up on these guys because the brother don't think that he's going to be that fast," Limbaugh said. "It's perfectly fine."
Jordy doesn't seem to mind, either. When writer Jason Wilde pointed out that Of the top 15 pass-catchers in the yardage ranking, only one of the other wide receivers -- New England’s Wes Welker, the NFL leader in receptions and yards -- is white, Nelson laughed.
“I told you not to let the secret out."