The NFL is a place where a linebacker can lose $500,000 after getting cut for punching his team’s starting quarterback in the face over a $600 debt. It’s also a place where, as I wrote Monday, a wide receiver can have the financial discipline to live on just $60,000 a year, saving and investing the rest of his contract’s payouts.
Tuesday brought another example of an NFL player with his priorities very much in order. Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson signed a $39 million deal just last year, but that hasn’t kept him from spending much of his free time during the offseason helping out on his family’s farm.
In fact, Nelson puts in work days of up to 12 hours, for five or six weeks each year, doing a variety of chores at the 4,000-acre farm in Kansas. The 30-year-old, who went to the Pro Bowl in 2014, spoke to ESPN The Magazine about the fulfillment he gets from his decidedly non-glamorous offseason lifestyle. From a segment published Tuesday by ESPN:
“Working cattle is my favorite farm duty,” he says. “It’s interactive, and you’re on your feet all day.”
As early as age 12, Nelson was driving tractor loads of wheat into town, hitting the road before he had a driver’s license.
“I probably identify more as a farmer [than a football player],” he says. “Around here, I’m just the farm kid that they have always known.”
These aren’t the first comments that Nelson has offered about being a farmer. Last year, he spoke about his experiences at a Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin Business Conference.
“My grandpa started the farm,” Nelson explained (via Farm Progress). “My dad was an only child. My dad farmed with my grandpa, and my older brother, younger sister and I helped with chores.” …
“You have a lot of responsibility on the farm,” he said. “That’s just like playing football. My family relied on me to do things on the farm and that’s what I do as a football player.”
Nelson has been back at his “day job” with the Packers since the team started its training camp at the end of July. He is actually having to get back up to speed, after hip surgery caused him to miss much of the team’s offseason training activities.
But there’s no doubt that Nelson isn’t daunted by the prospect of having to do a little hard work — or a lot of it.