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Packers' Nelson says being white helps him thrive at receiver

  • By Simon Samano NFL.com
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NFL defensive backs, consider yourselves warned: If you have to cover Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson, you're better off ignoring the color of his skin.

Don't underestimate him the way Wesley Snipes did Woody Harrelson in "White Men Can't Jump" (inter-sport analogy, but you get it).

"It's easy for someone to say, 'Oh yeah, he's like one of those other white receivers,' " Nelson's Packers teammate, Greg Jennings, told the Green Bay Press Gazette. "He's not. I'm sorry, he's not. He knows how I feel about it. Maybe I'm a little biased because he is a teammate, but from watching him Day 1 to right now, totally different player."

True enough, Nelson is having an outstanding season in his fourth year. His 633 receiving yards already are a career high, and his seven touchdowns are more than he caught in his first three years combined. And with 34 receptions right now, he should easily surpass his career high of 45, set last year.

We'd call that a pretty good year -- for a white receiver or otherwise. But for the record, Nelson is of the opinion that being a white receiver does, in fact, play a role in his success.

"Honestly, I think it is (a factor)," Nelson said. "As receivers, we've talked about it. I know (cornerbacks coach) Joe Whitt tells me all the time, when all the rookies come in, he gives them the heads up, 'Don't let him fool ya.' That's fine with me."

Hey, let's be real about this: Aside from Wes Welker, there just aren't many white guys who stand out as NFL receivers -- at least not compared to their African-American counterparts. Even with that being the case, Jennings, who's black, is quick to credit Nelson's success to something other than his skin color.

"It's not because he didn't put the time in. It's not because he's the white guy," Jennings said. "A lot of it has to do with the fact that guys look at him and say, 'OK, yeah, 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."

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