Making the NFL is a big deal, and making it on a trading card is also a big deal for players who have collected through the years and dreamed to be one of the athletes featured in a pack one day.
Such was the case for Matt Nelson of the Detroit Lions. The offensive tackle played a spot role for the Lions last season after cracking the roster, and even though he didn’t play much, his work was memorable at times and he was a top reserve on the squad. As a result, he’s going to be on a card.
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With some help of Brad Galli of WXYZ-TV in Detroit, Nelson realized that his dream was finally coming true when he was presented with an enlarged version of a Panini 2021 trading card that will be released this coming season.
Here’s a look at the moment:
Lions tackle Matt Nelson grew up collecting cards. He always longed for one card for his collection: his own.
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) April 21, 2021
Nelson played it cool in the clip, but as Galli noted, once the cameras were off, he was like a kid seeing himself on his very own trading card. It’s not often folks get to see the realization of a dream, but in this instance, it’s a very special moment that played out for Nelson. Now, he’ll get to share a pack of cards with other legends of the game.
When the new packs come out, Nelson and his family and friends will get to snatch plenty up in order to properly celebrate a dream realized.
Nelson Earned His Keep With Work on Khalil Mack
Who was Nelson exactly for those who still might not know? Only a converted defensive lineman that now plays offensive tackle. Nelson entered the game when the Lions lost Tyrell Crosby to injury in December against the Chicago Bears. He played right tackle in an emergency setting during the game and impressed in a big way, keeping Khalil Mack completely off the stat sheet one afternoon. That’s not easy work to do.
As a result of this performance, Nelson received some major love from Good Morning Football at the time and his name was suddenly very much on the radar when casual fans could likely have not even realized he was on the team prior to the game.
Stepping up at right tackle, Nelson and the @Lions offensive line helped the offense to 460 total yards and 34 points Sunday. The last time Detroit scored at least 34 points in Chicago was 1983. pic.twitter.com/cO8E141ERq
— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) December 7, 2020
Khalil Mack did not register a single stat in the game today. Nothing. He was being blocked by Lions reserve Tackle Matt Nelson who played defensive line two years ago.
— J (@Lion4lifedet) December 7, 2020
Detroit’s offensive line was hot and cold last season, but it’s nice to see someone like Nelson start to play hard and come into his own in a new role. As many have pointed out, this simply proves the great job Hank Fraley has done within Detroit’s offensive line the last few seasons. Fraley stuck around this offseason to help mold Nelson and others.
Nelson stepped up against all odds in a situation not many would have expected him to excel in, which was a testament to his own preparation as well as the team’s coaching. He proved then that he earned his keep and most certainly earned a card with his likeness.
Matt Nelson Biography
Coming from Iowa, Nelson was a starter along the team’s defensive line. He was pretty solid statistically, putting up 111 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, 9 pass break-ups, and 1 forced fumble. Considering his 6-8 size, He had the frame to be a success in the NFL somewhere, and the Lions picked him up as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and began transitioning him to the offensive side of the ball. He bulked up a bit and as played a key role for the Lions’ practice squad at times before being elevated to the roster.
Obviously, Nelson’s claim to fame will now be wiping out one of the best pass rushers in the NFL when nobody thought he was capable of the feat and remaining in play to be a key part of the team’s offensive line moving forward.
With his work from last season under his belt and a brand new trading card that wil drop in his honor, the hope is Nelson has finally arrived for good.
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