Of course it ended without much fanfare.
Longtime Packers wideout Jordy Nelson is quietly retiring after 11 years in the NFL, James Jones – Nelson’s former pass-catching teammate and current NFL Network analyst – announced on Wednesday.
🚨After more than a decade in the NFL, my brother, former #Packers & #Raiders WR @JordyRNelson is calling it a career. He’s stepping away from the game with more than 8,500 yards...72+ TD’s and as a SB Champion! I’m proud of him and happy for him and his family! #Ese’ #Respect — James Jones (@89JonesNTAF) March 27, 2019
After a decade in Green Bay, Nelson signed a two-year, $14.2 million deal with Oakland last offseason, but was released by the Raiders earlier this month.
Even with the disappointing end to his career in Oakland, Nelson will not soon be forgotten in Green Bay. From 2008 to '17, only three other wide receivers in football – Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall – matched Nelson’s 550 receptions, 7,848 yards and 69 receiving touchdowns.
If Nelson doesn’t miss all of 2015 with a knee injury, and if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t miss over half of 2017 with a broken collarbone, those numbers skyrocket even higher. "Ifs" are obviously a part of the NFL, but for as much success as Nelson wrung out of his 6-foot-3 frame, there was still even a little more meat left on the bone.
As Jones noted, Nelson finished his career with 613 receptions, 8,585 yards, 72 touchdowns, a Super Bowl ring and a bounty of no. 87 green and gold uniforms still seen at Lambeau Field on Sundays.
Here are just a few of Nelson’s finest moments in Titletown:
2011: Super Bowl XLV victory over Pittsburgh
Nelson absolutely gashed the Steelers defense in the Packers’ Super Bowl win at the beginning of this decade. He hauled in nine catches for 140 yards and opened the scoring with this TD connection with Rodgers:
For his career, Nelson totaled five touchdowns and 668 receiving yards in 13 postseason games.
2014: Career-high 209 yards in win over New York Jets
It’s almost as if Rodgers and Nelson, two primetime playmakers, were destined to play together. From 2010-14, Nelson led the NFL with 18 touchdowns of at least 40 yards, including this 80-yard game-winner against the Jets, which capped off his career-best 209-yard performance.
Nelson topped the century receiving mark 26 times in his career.
2016: Game-winning catch against Chicago to help "run the table"
Nelson had several sparkling performances against the Bears – including a six-catch, 152-yard, two-score outing in the Packers 55-14 beatdown in 2014 – but few catches in no. 87’s career were bigger than this one.
A third-and-11 bomb against a division rival in the bitter cold perfectly exemplified the risk/reward nature of the Rodgers-Nelson connection that somehow landed on the right side of the coin more often than not. Mason Crosby ultimately nailed the kick, and the Packers ran the table into the postseason, eventually falling one win short of Nelson’s second Super Bowl performance. Nelson finished with a sparkling 14-3 record against Chicago during his Green Bay tenure, and a 36-13-1 mark against the entire NFC North.
If this announcement feels sudden, you’re not alone. It’s surprising to see Nelson out of the league at 33 years old, especially after he overcame the knee injury with such an outstanding bounce-back showing. At the time, it didn’t feel like the 2016 campaign would be the last peak Rodgers-Nelson season, but here we are. As more memorable players from the Mike McCarthy era depart Green Bay – or the NFL entirely – it remains painfully clear how tough it can be to overcome age, injuries and circumstance.
In the end, though, no one will recall his tapering production in his final years. Nelson was the consummate professional, a fan favorite, and a feared wide receiver during his decade with the green-and-gold, and he will always be remembered as a legend in Packers lore.
When Brian's not writing about sports, he is probably prattling on about Marquette hoops, digging through statistics, or re-binging his favorite television series. Any conversation that begins with a quote from "The Office" or "West Wing" is a surefire way to grab his attention.