Since Jordy Nelson left Kansas State, the former All-American and current Green Bay Packer has become quite comfortable financially and a Super Bowl champion.
Yet, he can’t stay away from his Leonardville and Manhattan roots.
Nelson — as he has nearly every summer since being drafted by the Packers in the second round in 2008 — was back home this past Friday night for the 5th Annual Nelson’s Landing Golf Tournament, Poker Run and Auction. Nelson hosted an autograph signing Friday night.
This year’s fundraiser aimed to help the Stoddard family and Virginia Knopp.
Along with the autograph signing — which lined up well before the 7 p.m. start time and wrapped around the block — the benefit featured many Packer-related memorabilia that was auctioned, including an autographed jersey by Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a Packers fan trip and of course, no shortage of Nelson-related items.
Businesses from the Riley County area also contributed items for the auction.
“This is my home town,” Nelson said while finding a few minutes to eat dinner with his grandparents before he was about to meet seemingly the entire town of Leonardville. “This is it. This is where we’re going to settle down when everything’s done. My wife and I both grew up here. We love it here. It’s the roots of our lives. We enjoy every bit of it. We have family back here and want to raise our kids in this area.”
Nelson admitted being financially comfortable does grant many freedoms, and that unlike some of his teammates with the Packers, he feels lucky to have such a great home to return to.
“You can (do whatever you want), to be honest with you,” he said about his financial flexibility. “If you take care of what you need to take care of, it can open a lot of doors for you.
“But everyone’s situation is different. Some guys come from hard backgrounds. There’s a couple guys in my receiver room that were homeless, so their goal is to not go back where they came from. It varies person to person.”
When Nelson is back home, he’s no slouch. He returns to the farm and ranch work that he grew up doing. In many ways, he said, it’s a therapeutic release from the hustle and bustle of being one of the top young receivers on one of the NFL’s best teams.
Since joining the Packers, Nelson has racked up more than 3, 200 yards and 28 touchdowns on 217 receptions. He caught nine passes in Super Bowl XLV — three away from a Super Bowl record — for 140 yards and a touchdown. He recently signed a three-year, $13.35 million contract extension with the team.
“It is (therapeutic),” Nelson said about returning to farm work when he can. “It’s good to get away from football and to rest the mind, but it’s the way we grew up. It’s the way both sides of my family have provided for their families — through farming — and it’s the way we know it.
“Working with my brother and my dad and the rest of family, we enjoy every bit of it. We enjoy each other’s company and have a lot of fun doing it.”
And one can assume charity work, such as the benefit for the Stoddards, is also rewarding.
“It’s really important,” Nelson said. “Being with the Packers, we are community-owned , we do a lot of things in the community to help out. As a role model, you can put yourself in position as a blessing to help others. But it’s the people who come out and help that makes the difference. We try to do what we can do help people out.”
It’s not just in Leonardville, though, that Nelson can be seen in the offseason. He visits Manhattan, too — especially his old stomping grounds at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
“Absolutely, I go in there and talk to (Coach Bill Snyder) every time I come back. If I don’t, I get in trouble,” he said. “But it’s great to have him still there and to have that connection with him, the team and the rest of the university. It just continues to grow and it’s fun to watch them.”
Nelson also said he’s a fan of the renovations to Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “Everything K-State is doing (is awesome) for the students and the athletes. I know the guys who played in 1992 and 93 with Coach Snyder when he first came in and they didn’t have much and they were at the bottom of the Big Eight. But everyone does their part to improve the team, to improve the facilities and you take pride in that.
“Everyone is there as a family, as Coach Snyder says, and it’s great to be a part of that family.”
Nelson said the offseason has been positive and that he’s ready to help Green Bay make another title run. The Packers finished last season 11-5 and lost to San Francisco 49ers in the divisional playoffs.
“We’re just finishing up offseason workouts,” he said. “It’s just another part of the season. We have a great core coming back and obviously our No. 1 goal and our only goal is to win the championship — and that’s how it will always be with the Packers.”
Green Bay opens the preseason at home Aug. 9 against the Arizona Cardinals.
More information about the Stoddard family and Knopp and ways to help can be found at http://www.nelsonslandingks.com or by calling (785) 293-5661.