Saturday, November 19, 2011
'First Take' debate: Race and Jordy Nelson
By Kevin Seifert
You probably noted our link this week to an ESPNMilwaukee.com story that tackled a sensitive and complex topic: Do NFL defenders underestimate Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson's speed because he is white? ESPN's "First Take" crew debated the topic later in the week, and I bring you the video mostly because I thought former NFL fullback Jon Ritchie brought a valuable perspective as a white player who admittedly carried his own biases against white skill players.
My own thought: Defenders, and possibly teammates, might have underestimated Nelson earlier in this career. But if they still think he's a stereotypical tall and slow white receiver, they're flat-out not watching tape. I don't think many people are surprised anymore. If Nelson is getting favorable coverage, it's because opponents have made a schematic choice to pay more attention to receiver Greg Jennings and/or tight end Jermichael Finley. You can't double-cover everybody, and some Packers receiver is going to be covered by an opponent's third- or fourth-best cornerback. It's more a matter of math than race.
Have a look for yourself.