The Green Bay Packers released wide receiver Jordy Nelson on Tuesday, and fans everywhere – diehard and casual, the ones who sort of understood the football-as-business decision and the ones who were totally, justifiably outraged – grieved as one.
Nelson, who spent a decade in Green Bay, was one of the most popular and productive Packers of all time, ranking in the top five in catches, receiving yards and touchdown receptions in franchise history. In spite of his wince-inducing Wisconsin tourism commercial from 2013, he was universally beloved across the state – and throughout Packer Nation – as the humble, handsome, hardworking and highly accomplished farm boy from Kansas, actively involved in the community and almost unstoppable on the field.
We could spend days writing effusive odes to Nelson, remembering the best plays of his career and re-reading this 2008 interview OnMilwaukee did with the then-22-year-old rookie just a month after he’d been drafted by Green Bay. We could also devote some time to wondering how much of a pay cut the Packers reportedly asked Nelson, due to make more than $10 million in 2018, to accept to try and keep him, and then worrying which potential opponent the spurned wideout will take his talents to next.
But, instead, we’re going to let Aaron Rodgers, one of Nelson’s closest friends on the team, sum up those difficult feelings and pay proper homage to No. 87, because Rodgers does everything better than we could anyway:
Hard to find the right words today to express what 87 means to me. No teammate exemplified what it means to be a packer quite like him. From living in GB full time, his incredible contributions to the city, state, and region, to his consistent, reliable play on the field. Definitely a sad day and the toughest part of this business. There will never be another quite like white lightning. #leader #brother #friend #baller #loyal #champion #legacy #intact #stillcanplayball #backshoulder #1stSBTD
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.