Detroit Lions offensive lineman Matt Nelson could make his sixth straight start at right tackle Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. A college defensive lineman at Iowa, Nelson sat down to answer five questions for the Free Press this week.
I know you were a sports card collector as a kid. What’s your prized card in your collection?
Growing up I was just a fan of college football, mostly. And so every year I would always like, when the draft would come, the rookies always had their cards, so I just remember very explicitly, Reggie Bush, Vince Young, all those guys came out that one year. And I went to the card collector shop — I didn’t even know the value of cards, I just liked having the players and I would organize teams with them. I would be like, ‘Hey, I need a Vince Young card. I need a Reggie Bush card. I need a Mario Williams.’ Those guys, like the big-name guys, and I would make a roster with them.
So those are the cards that I remember the most was that collection. If I had any money in my pocket, it’d just burn a hole in it unless I got myself a card.
You don’t have a million-dollar card sitting a vault somewhere, do you?
No. I mean, the collection itself, I might have one or two that has $10 value to it. It’s just, like, you know the guys and it’s like, ‘This is really cool that I got a card of this guy.’
So what’s it like to have a card of yourself?
It was really cool. They caught me by complete surprise when they presented that to me and it was, I mean, that was one of the coolest things I’ve had to experience. Just from growing up, collecting cards to all of a sudden being in a card, playing in the NFL, it’s every little kid’s dream.
Where do you keep your card?
The big one is going to get framed and put up in the man cave, eventually. They’re in a safe place at home, for sure.
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Tell me about the last book you read.
I couldn’t tell you the last book I read. That’s a good question. I can’t remember the book’s author, but it was like, ‘History of Humans,’ and how humans came about. I read that, I couldn’t tell you when that was, but it was just kind of how humans evolved and why they evolved, and all the evolutionary stuff. I just remember being really interested in that sort of stuff, science and in general. It was just an interesting book.
What’s the best piece of advice your mom or dad ever gave you?
Be nice to people and eventually it’ll come back to you. I mean, you never know who — treat others how you want to be treated, that sort of stuff. You never know down the line if that person you helped out five, 10 years ago is going to pop up in your life somehow and help you out in some way.
You play the Cincinnati Bengals this week. Riley Reiff, another ex-Iowa offensive lineman — someone who started his career on the offensive line — is on the side. What does it mean to you now to be part of the lineage of offensive linemen Iowa has produced?
I think it just goes to show that, just like hard-working, the culture, that sort of stuff, of Iowa is just put your nose to the grindstone and just keep grinding, that sort of stuff. It just kind of rings true.
You put your mind to it, you can do whatever you need to. I just feel like the tough, smart, physical, you just kind of have to embody that, and it’s whatever role, however I can keep playing football, I was going to do it. So here I am, I guess.