November 16, 2007

Nelson's homefield goodbye is here

LEONARDVILLE, Kan. -- Friends and neighbors labored through the night inside Nelson's Landing on Tuesday because, well, that's what friends and neighbors do in small Kansas towns. See, besides running their farm on the outskirts of nearby Riley, Alan and Kim Nelson had a dream. They wanted to open a restaurant and sports bar where friends could gather. Its open house is Friday night. But friends and neighbors won't be able to help Alan on Saturday morning.

That's when the self-made man and father of three will take the 20-minute trip down Highway 24 one last time. Well, at least it will be the last time he'll travel to watch his 22-year-old son, the middle child and currently the No. 2-ranked wide receiver in college football, play at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Family and friends will gather in the bleachers in the south end zone, the same ones where Jordy Nelson sat when he watched Kevin Lockett, Darnell McDonald and Quincy Morgan. Ask the folks around them. They remember Jordy. Think about it. The same folks that sat around the Nelsons, chanting "Andre Coleman" and "David Allen" and "Terence Newman" now trumpet the name of one of their own. Understand when you buy K-State season tickets, you become part of a fall family that meets in the same seats six, seven or sometimes eight times a year. You see kids go from diapers to braces to high school jackets.

Who knows? If you've held those season tickets long enough, one of those kids sitting a few rows away, the one who used to run down the stadium steps to slap hands with all the seniors, the one who grew up around all the purple magic, might one day become one of the greatest players to ever wear his home team's colors.

Which brings us back to Saturday, when prior to the 11:30 a.m. kickoff against No. 6 Missouri, Nelson and 21 other seniors will be introduced at Bill Snyder Family Stadium one last time.

"I'll cry," Alan said. "We've told everyone that we've gotten tickets for that I'll be crying. That's just me. It's going to be weird. It's going to be awesome."

It will be a dream come true.

"It's so sentimental since we're K-State fans," Kim said. "After this season we'll probably still have our season tickets and try to go. To see all of this and to know how important it was to him … he got to live his dream of getting out there."

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