By Tori Wittenbrock
ASHWAUBENON – On Thursday, Aug. 31, the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame Banquet took place with the induction of 2008 Draftees wide receiver Jordy Nelson and offensive guard Josh Sitton.
“Thank you to the Green Bay Packer organization and the Green Bay Hall of Fame for this incredible honor,”said Sitton. “And thank you to the best fanbase in the entire world. It is truly a blessing and it wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t believe in me.”
Sitton was selected by the Green Bay Packers as the 135th pick of the 2008 NFL Draft in the fourth round coming out the University of Central Florida. He started in 112 games over eight seasons for the Packers until his departure from the team in 2015.
“When I was in kindergarten we had a class assignment to write down what we wanted to do with our lives. I wanted to play soccer because I was really good at it, I wanted to play baseball because it was my favorite sport, and I wanted to play football for the Dallas Cowboys,” Sitton recalled. “I didn’t get to play for the Cowboys, but I did get to win a Superbowl in the Cowboys’ Stadium.”
Despite having an affinity for a variety of sports, Sitton said that he eventually found his way to football and the rest is history.
“Fast forward to seventh grade, and I was a chubby Johnathan Taylor Thomas look alike and decided I was too embarrassed to take off my shirt at soccer practice… Thank God for preteen insecurities. The best decision I ever made,” said Sitton.
Sitton’s role with the Packers was historic and produced a lot of accolades for not only the team, but himself as a player. Sitton was named to the Pro Bowl in 2012, 2013 and 2014. He was also named the Offensive Lineman of the Year by the NFL Alumni Association in 2010.
However, Sitton said that all of this success would not be possible without those who have been supporting him since day one.
“Every Saturday night before games in the NFL, I called my brother George. We would also talk on the way to every game, and as soon as the game was over. Thank you for all those phone calls George. Love you buddy.”
Sitton was also a part of the 2011 Super Bowl XLV team that beat the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first Super Bowl title in 14 years for the franchise, along with fellow inductee, Jordy Nelson.
“Jordy, thank you for being a leader who I looked up to, as a player and as a man. I couldn’t have a better person to come into the league with and enter the Hall of Fame with,” said Sitton.
Sitton also said that he was thankful to his mother for the support she showed him throughout his career and the lessons she taught him throughout his life.
“Mom, you taught me to never start something I couldn’t finish, and I brought that with me throughout my career. I love you.”
However, most importantly, Sitton said that he owed his entire career and all of his success to his loving wife.
“Kristin, I would be absolutely nowhere without you. They say there is always a great woman behind every man, but I don’t believe it, because you are always out in front, leading me and teaching me how to be a better man, and showing me how deep my heart can love someone,” said Sitton, a sentiment which brought not only Sitton and his wife, but many in attendance, to tears.
“To my beautiful, smart, and loving children… I didn’t know you when I was playing football, but I always knew that this would be for you one day.”
Sitton finished off his career playing for the Chicago Bears from 2016-17 and then the Miami Dolphins in 2018, before entering retirement from a long and successful career in the NFL.
“My family and I came here early to walk through [the Packer Hall of Fame]. We weren’t able to do that this evening, so we made a point to be able to do it. You guys do a great job keeping alive the history of the greatest organization in the NFL,” began Nelson.
Nelson, too, was selected in the 2008 NFL Draft, as the 36th pick overall, in the second round. Nelson’s career with the Packers spanned nine seasons, from 2008-17, omitting the year 2015 when he was coping with a knee injury.
“I think it makes it extra special,” said Nelson about being inducted alongside someone who was a part of the same Draft class. “To be able to be drafted together, go to the Super Bowl together, go to a Pro Bowl together, and now enter the [Packer] Hall of Fame together is very unique. Not everyone gets this opportunity, and I’m happy that we are able to.”
Nelson said that his family is a large reason that he was able to see success, both on and off the field.
“Thank you to my family. You guys took care of the travel, sat wherever the tickets were, and didn’t ask for anything. I appreciate that.”
Nelson also recounted the most notable moments from his career, beginning with the moment he was drafted into the league.
“The best thing about it was when they announced it, it was during a commercial, so all we got was a name across the bottom of the TV. Came in quiet and I’m trying to go out quiet,” joked Nelson.
During his time with the team, Nelson amassed a total of 69 touchdown receptions — the third most in team history, 550 receptions — the fourth most in team history and 7,848 receiving yards — the sixth most in team history.
“Thinking back to when I first moved up to Green Bay — some of the people here tonight know I’m rather cheap — my brother and I drove a U-haul up to Green Bay with all of our stuff. It was a great drive, one that we made many times back and forth to Kansas to go back in the offseason, and one we enjoyed every time we went,” said Nelson, who played college football at Kansas State.
“Green Bay couldn’t have been a better fit, and it felt like home immediately.”
Over his time in Green Bay, Nelson was able to tie Sterling Sharpe for the franchise record for recording three consecutive seasons over 85 receptions.
Like Sitton, Nelson was selected to the 2014 Pro Bowl for his performance that season with 13 touchdowns, 98 receptions and 1,519 receiving yards.
Nelson recounted his favorite memories — both football and family related — including his oldest son’s first birthday, which overlapped with the Packers 2011 Super Bowl victory in which he became the fourth receiver in Super Bowl history to record over nine receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown.
Then, in 2014, Nelson revealed a special story about how he and his wife selected the name for their second child, whom they both had to fly down to Texas to adopt, mid-season, right after a game.
“I was 63 yards away from breaking the record… We needed a name, and we came up with Brooks. For those who remember, it was Robert Brooks whose record I broke, so it seemed fitting,” said Nelson.
Shortly after, however, Nelson was plagued with a knee injury that would take him off the field for the entire 2015 season.
“I gave myself about two days to pout and feel sorry for myself, but then it was time to move on,” said Nelson.
In 2016, Nelson was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year after recording a league-high 14 receiving touchdowns and 97 receptions in his first season back.
Soon after, in March of 2017, the Nelson family hit another major milestone by adopting their third child, adding a little girl to their growing family.
Nelson said that his wife recorded all of their experiences in a memory book from their first year in Green Bay together.
“She wrote in the book, ‘How could it ever get better than this?’ and when we got married and came to Green Bay, we had no expectations. We were just going to ride the ride and obviously it turned out pretty good.”
Nelson finally addressed his wife, stating that was a significant reason that he was able to make Green Bay his home, and had a successful career as a professional athlete.
“When we moved to Green Bay, I told you not to get too comfortable, and not to make too many friends, because this might not last for long… but like usual, you didn’t listen to me, and like usual, you were right.”
Nelson completed his NFL career playing one season for the Oakland Raiders in 2018, but said that Green Bay will always feel like home to him.