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Exclusive interview with David Nelson

Sep 22, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson (86) holds off Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Chicago Bears won 27-19. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 22, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson (86) holds off Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Chicago Bears won 27-19. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
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For former wide receiver of the New York Jets David Nelson sits with The Jet Press to discuss why he can still play in the NFL and what he’s been up to lately.

This spring, New York University’s Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media and Business honored former New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson for his I’m ME Foundation’s incredible work with orphaned children in Haiti.

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It was a day-long, first-of-its-kind Social Responsibility of Sports conference that featured: a keynote address by NBA commissioner David Stern and discussion among professional sports team owners, current and former professional players, general managers, members of the media and heads of non-profit foundations.

Facilitated by NYU’s Arthur Miller, Nelson shared the stage in the primetime panel with NBA Legend Dikembe Mutombo, Sharlee Jeter (Derek Jeter’s sister), Billy Bean (former MLB player) and CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla.  The panelists’ objective was to discuss the responsibilities of professionals in sports to their communities.

.@officialmutombo @DavidNelson86 @billybeanball share deeply personal stories and their causes #NYUSRS pic.twitter.com/RhJtUuf6pM

— Rachel Henderson (@HendersonR) March 14, 2016

To conclude our panels today: "Agents of Change" w/ @sjeter2 @officialmutombo @billybeanball @DavidNelson86 #NYUSRS

— NYUSPS Tisch Sports (@nyutischsports) March 14, 2016

.@DavidNelson86 discussing the unifying nature of sports for everyone from any background #NYUSRS

— NYUSPS Tisch Sports (@nyutischsports) March 14, 2016

Nelson has been very outspoken about the fact that he thinks he could still play in the NFL.  On his foundation’s website, he writes: “No one’s questioning my abilities. Instead, I’m hearing questions about my commitment because I’m outspoken about my nonprofit, and I do a lot to make it successful. Rather than posting pictures of me at the gym (which I go to every day), I choose to use my social media and interview opportunities to showcase our organization’s amazing work.”

Danielle McCartan and David Nelson. Photo property of Danielle McCartan and used by permission for TheJetPress.com

For these guys, Nelson tells me that he is trying to lead by example, to show guys that it is possible to be effective in both.

As a humanitarian, is Nelson bothered by the image that negative actions from players like former University of Florida college teammate Aaron Hernandez paint for the NFL? After talking about the camaraderie among the “fraternity” of players in the locker room who support each other’s initiatives, he told me: “It breaks my heart to know that somebody that I was really close with was capable of that”.

It was an honor to share the stage and speak on a panel with these amazing people at the #NYUSRS Summit today in NYC. #SocialResponsibility #AgentsOfChange @dofficialmutombo @sjeter2 @jeterturn2 @carlquintanilla @billybeanball

A photo posted by David Nelson (@davidnelson86) on

About his foundation, Nelson told me, prior to taking the stage: “We are here to try to bring family to those who are either the risk of losing that or who have never had that…. Right now we have a children’s home there that has about 12 kids in it that were abandoned, that were orphaned.  We brought them and gave them a family environment, an environment of care and an environment of individualized attention.  An then we also have a program, a coffee business, to create jobs to prevent orphans”.

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Additionally, he opened up to me, telling me: “my first time in Haiti was 2 years after the earthquake…. I never experienced poverty…first hand…. The people there had so much hope and so much joy and it just spoke to my heart and inspired and motivated me to get this started”.

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