Print and Go Back NFC North [Print without images]

Thursday, November 17, 2011
BBAO: Race and Jordy Nelson's success

By Kevin Seifert

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Why is Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson having a breakout season? He knows the Packers' offense backwards and forwards. He has a good relationship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He's big enough to outmuscle many defensive backs. He's cut back on the drops and fumbles that plagued him in earlier years. He's fast.

Oh, and he's white.

That final attribute was one that Packers receiver Greg Jennings and others expounded on in this story from Jason Wilde of Here's how Jennings put it:
"They underestimate him. And honestly, he uses that to his advantage. Seriously … a lot of it has to do with the fact that guys look at him and say, 'OK, 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 in -- not only on the field but in his preparation off the field."

Defenders have at times allowed Nelson's speed to catch them off guard. He has two of the five longest receptions in the NFL this season, touchdowns of 93 and 84 yards, and overall is averaging 18.6 yards per catch.

Were they simply beat by a good player? Or was their approach to defending Nelson somehow influenced by long-held stereotypes about speed and race? Whoa. That's too heavy of an issue to get into before 8 a.m. ET on a Thursday. But I can tell you this: Jennings is a thoughtful and relatively drama-free person. If he brought up the topic, it wasn't to make a splash. He truly believes it, and he's closer to it than us.

Continuing around the NFC North: