The sun came up again today--despite the worst fears of Packers fans--who are in mourning at the apparent loss of wide receiver Jordy Nelson to an ACL injury. Not only does this injury leave the Packers without one of their deep threats in the receiving corps, but it also means fans have one less mascot to root for this season.
Packer backers hate when I refer to some of their favorites as "mascots"--but the team always seems to have a few guys whose popularity with fans and in the community exceeds their actual production on the field. I'm not talking about Aaron Rodgers or Brett Favre--they have the numbers to back up superstar status--but guys more like Nelson or Clay Matthews or John Kuhn (who make up the three most popular jerseys sold behind A-Rodg).
Compare Jordy Nelson's numbers to those of some of his predecessors--Greg Jennings and Antonio Freeman. Not really that much different are they? And yet Jennings and Freeman never seemed to be as "beloved" by the fans as Farmer Jordy. In fact, the fan base seems to have a bit of animosity against those former stars. And imagine for a moment if the infamous on-sides kick had made it all the way to #87 and he had been the one to muff it. Would there have been infinite calls to sports radio demanding he be cut? And why is so little made of the numerous drops he had while running open in that same game?
Actually, the Packers have a proud history of mascots. You had Bill Schroeder, Mark Tauscher, Don Beebe, Chuck Cecil and Brian Noble--just to name a few. All of them seemed to have that "something" that appealed to Green Bay fans more than many other players. And when mascots renegotiated big contracts, Packers fans celebrated saying "He really deserves it--he's a really great guy". But when someone like the aforementioned Jennings asked for big bucks, those same fans couldn't understand why he wasn't willing to take less to "help the team stay under the salary cap".
With Nelson likely out of the rest of the year, the Packers may have to go out and find another "gritty" player with "deceptive" speed and "a high football IQ" to replace him. It's what Packers fans love most about their team.