Huskie Club rolls red carpet for DeKalb boy turned Giant

By Jim Wozniak

When one is part of a Super Bowl winner, celebrity status quickly comes, and the red carpet is unfolded.

Karl Nelson, who was raised in DeKalb, is the starting left tackle for the New York Giants. The Giants used a strong second-half surge to beat the Denver Broncos 39-20 in Super Bowl XXI. Nelson was a guest speaker at a larger-than-normal Huskie Club luncheon Monday.

“I haven’t seen this big of a crowd here since Corso (resigned),” said one Huskie Club member.

At the luncheon Nelson received a plaque from DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow in commemoration of Karl Nelson Day in DeKalb. Tom Rosenow, a former NIU football player drafted by the National Football League in 1968, also gave Nelson a poster recognizing Nelson’s achievement. The honors and appearances are in full swing.

“It was a very good season,” Nelson said. “We started out a little slow, played Dallas and lost. It kind of set the tone for the season. We were kind of thinking about the Chicago game (in the 1985 playoffs). We just thought we were a good football team. That first loss kind of got us thinking about football again.

“I’m very disappointed we did not get to play the Chicago Bears because we had something to prove to them.”

Nelson said the Giants had the best two-minute offense in the NFL. He mentioned the games in which the Giants came back from 17-0 deficits to defeat the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers. He also cited the regular-season 19-16 victory over he Broncos.

“We never gave up,” said Nelson, who played for DeKalb High School and Iowa State. “We thought we’d find our way back.”

Nelson said the Giants were especially prepared to play the 49ers in the divisional playoffs. That game turned into a 49-3 destruction for the Giants, who next bulldozed over the Washington Redskins 17-0 in the NFC Championship Game.

“Everyone thought that (the 49ers game) would be the Super Bowl,” Nelson said. “The Giants got fired up because we don’t like the 49ers. We beat the Redskins on probably the windiest day I can remember.”

eflecting on the Super Bowl, Nelson summed up the game this way:

“We did not have a very good first half,” he said. “The defense played great in the first half. Everyone asks us what (Giants Coach Bill) Parcells said to us at halftime. He didn’t tell us anything. We got together with the offensive coordinator. Parcells just said to relax. We didn’t change a single thing offensively from the first half to the second half.

“There were a couple of guys who were worried, but they were second stringers, who didn’t have a feel for the game. I think that (the fake punt) was a big thing for us. We had tried it before against Denver. Denver thought they had us. But they didn’t know we had three options on the play.”

One of the biggest questions everyone asks is whether the Giants will repeat next year or whether they will suffer the same fate as the Bears. Nelson said the key is to do the same things that brought the Giants to the championship.

“I think the thing you have to do is not to do anything,” he said. “We’re not as flashy a team (as the Bears). We’re not as wrapped up in ourselves.”

But the Giants’ future is uncertain to a point if Parcells leaves the Giants to coach and work in the front office of the Atlanta Falcons as the Chicago Tribune reported last week. Nelson said he has not heard anything concrete about that situation.

“You (the audience) know as much as I do,” he said. “I hope he stays. He’s helped us a lot.”

Nelson said it is possible the NFL players will go on strike next year. He said a lot of players have talked about bringing free agency to the NFL, but he said he doubts that will happen. One roadblock, he said, is that winning the Super Bowl does not bring any more direct money to owners of winning teams as opposed to owners of losing teams.

“In order for there to be free agents, there has to be some (monetary) incentive for winning,” he said.

Before Nelson had his chance to talk, Jon Dalton, NIU vice president for student affairs, spoke to the audience about drug testing in general and drug abuse in particular. He also explained the changes in the drug testing policy at NIU.

e said a recent CBS poll of adults stated that drug abuse was the biggest issue in the United States today. According to the poll, six out of 10 parents said they believed their children had tried some form of drugs.

In response, Nelson said drug testing is necessary even though he considers it unfair.

“It definitely is discriminating, but I think all sports have to clean up their act and get people believing in them again,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair, but it has to be done.”