Packers' Jordy Nelson says his race helps him succeed

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers runs with the ball after his catch against the San Diego Chargers during the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on November 6, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Harry How/Getty Images

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers runs with the ball after his catch against the San Diego Chargers during the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on November 6, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

(CBS) - Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson goes by the nickname White Lightning. With good hands, quick speed, and four touchdowns in the last four games, Nelson has earned the "lightning" part. But in a recent interview, Nelson reveals that part of his secret is that too many opponents get hung up on the fact that Nelson is, well, white.

When asked by the Green Bay Press Gazette if racial bias is a factor in Nelson's on-field success, he replied: "Honestly, I think it is."

Nelson and his teammates believe that, with so few elite white receivers in the league, opposing players are likely to dismiss Nelson's abilities on the field.

"As receivers, we've talked about it." Nelson told the Press Gazette. "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."

Packer teammate Greg Jennings said, "He uses that to his advantage."

"It's not because he's the white guy. A lot of it has to do with the fact that guys look at him say, "Okay, yeah, he's the white guy, he can't be that good.' Well, he is that good."

"It's easy for someone to say, 'Oh yeah, he's like one of those other white receivers,'" Jennings, who is black, told the newspaper. "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 one to right now, totally different player."

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers agrees with his receivers.

"When you see Jordy out there, you think, 'Oh well, he's a white wide receiver. He won't be very athletic," Rodgers said on his weekly ESPNMilwaukee radio show. "I am not sure why he keeps sneaking up on guys."

Eventually, opponents are going to have to dismiss the white receiver stereotype - or continue to pay the consequences. Nelson has caught 34 passes for 633 on the season, including seven touchdowns, making him second on the team in receptions and yardage.

Nelson's performance brings to mind another prominent white receiver, the current league leader in receptions, New England Patriots' Wes Welker. In an interview with Miami's sports radio station WQAM, Welker admitted, "I think even my own teammates look at me sometimes and think, 'How the hell is this guy doing this?'"

  • Bailey Johnson

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