Athletes Supporting Ag: Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
Jordy Nelson is a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers who grew up on a cattle operation in Kansas. He owns farmland today and spends his breaks from the National Football League helping his brother and dad on the farm. He played college football at Kansas State, received All-American honors, and was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He won Super Bowl XLV with the Green Bay Packers.
SF: What does your family farm consist of, and who is involved?
JN: Our farm consists of black angus cow/calf herd, some beef cattle, and some cash crop, but a lot of our crops are based for feed to get the cattle through the winter. We do have soybeans and wheat for the cash crop, but a lot of it is corn and alfalfa and silage and stuff to feed the cows through the winter. The farm originally started with my grandpa. My dad is an only child so then he stayed on the farm and now runs that. My brother has done the same thing. Pretty much right out of high school came back and started farming. He has kind of grown his own farm. Like I said, he has four girls himself so he has to support his family. My dad and my brother run their own stuff now, and when I go back, I help out. I have some land back there that my brother manages for me until I get back. It’s growing. He’s got four girls, I’ve got three kids, so once we all get back we’ll have plenty of help and be done with work in no time.
SF: When did you realize you were going to play in the NFL?
JN: Well, probably toward the end of my senior year at K State. My junior year I got banged up a little bit and missed a couple games and didn’t have that great of a year. And to be honest with you, going through K State, I never thought that… Obviously, it is the ultimate goal, but I didn’t think it was a realistic goal until probably the mid-to-late part of my senior year. I hold the NFL in very high standard and understand it’s very difficult to get to this level. Probably once that season was over and a few All-American honors were coming in, it became more of a realistic chance and understanding that there would be a shot to play at the next level.
SF: What were your favorite teams growing up?
JN: I was a Chiefs fan. Every Sunday, come home from church, turn the TV on, and watch the Chiefs play.
SF: How much fun is it to do the Lambeau Leap?
JN: The Lambeau Leap is fun. And it can be crazy at the same time. It’s an experience. It’s different every time you do it depending on how much the fans have had to drink probably throughout the game. It can be kind of a hassle getting up there and a hassle getting down because they want to hold onto you and they are hitting you and everything else. But it is obviously quite an experience to be able to be a part of that tradition here in Green Bay and at Lambeau Field, to go jump in the fans and celebrate with them.
SF: What are your goals this season on the field?
JN: Nothing too crazy. My goal is just to do my job and be out there every game. Obviously a couple years ago I missed a whole season with an ACL, and I gained a lot of appreciation for being able to play 16 games a year and was able to do that last year. To me, if I’m out there every game and do my job, everything else will take care of itself.
SF: How has being an NFL player helped you become a better farmer?
JN: This is the first time this has ever been asked in this manner. I appreciate the farming more. I think being outside and getting away from football is something I love to do in the summer time when we have a month off before the training camp. And obviously the NFL brings some money and that honestly is very helpful to put yourself up buying some more land or more cattle or better machinery or bigger machinery to help you be more efficient out there. There’s different connections I’ve been able to make by being in this position in the NFL, and it has been able to help us grow as a farm as well.
SF: And I am sure being a farmer has helped you in your dedication to being an NFL player.
JN: Absolutely. It set the foundation from the discipline, the hard work, the understanding, and relying on other people. Understanding that you have to do your job and you have to do it extremely well. You have to do it to be successful. In farming, you only really can rely on yourself and Mother Nature. If you don’t do it, no one else will. And a lot of times no one is watching you so you have to go out and do it the right way all the time because that is what is going to allow you to reap the benefits later in harvest or with the cattle later on.
SF: What kind of “farm” nicknames have your teammates given you over the years?
JN: I really don’t have any. One kid back in college gave me one and called me “the hick from the sticks” but that’s about it.
SF: After football, will you become a full-time farmer?
JN: I don’t know about full-time. I do plan on farming. We plan on moving back home to Kansas and working with my brother on the farm. I don’t know if I will be doing the sun up to sun down stuff. Obviously, come harvest time, I’ll be there to help him, but I told him he can lay me off whenever he wants and I’ll go on vacation. We’re working it out and figuring out what we want to do. Obviously, I love doing it. It allows me to be outside and gives me something to do. It’s fun. But also I don’t have to put in the grind and all the extra work. I want to be able to get home to dinner with my family and be able to go to the kids’ stuff so there is obviously a lot of sacrifices that farming does. Hopefully I can be back to take some of that stress off of my brother and allow him to do the same thing because he has four girls, and I’m sure he wants to do the same thing as well. Hopefully we can find a good balance, and we can both be farming and both be hanging out with family as well.
Rapid fire questions. One word or one sentence.
SF: Chevy or Ford?
SF: What color of tractor?
SF: Manhattan or Green Bay?
JN: Right now, we are loving Green Bay, and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but we look forward to being back in Kansas, just up north of Manhattan, and being around family.
SF: Livestock or Grain?
SF: Hobby Sport: Hunting, golf, basketball, or other?
JN: Golf is probably my most enjoyable hobby sport away from football.
SF: Favorite team to play against?
JN: Aw, man. Probably any other teams in our division.
SF: What does American agriculture mean to you?
JN: It means a lot. It is a foundation. It is the way our family grew up making a living and to me it’s the foundation of our country. Without agriculture, I think obviously our country would struggle. I think some people have lost track of what farmers and people in agriculture do for this world. If it’s through cattle, if it’s through grain, if it’s through other crops, it allows us to survive. It is a way to make a living but also a way to provide for other people throughout this world.