EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — This was about much more than football.
David Nelson pointed to the sky after his first touchdown catch, sending a message to his new buddy.
And giving him a thrill he’ll never forget.
The New York Jets wide receiver hosted Davion Only, the 15-year-old Florida foster boy who made headlines with his heartfelt adoption plea in October, for a memorable weekend that included stops all over Manhattan on Saturday and MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
“I think the way I played today, I hope it made him proud,” Nelson said after catching two touchdown passes in the Jets’ 24-13 win over the Cleveland Browns. “I hope it brought joy to his life.”
Nelson formed the nonprofit i’mME with his two brothers last January to aid orphaned children. He invited Only to New York for “a crash course in Christmastime in the city” after hearing about how the boy stood in front of a church congregation and begged for a family to love him.
Nelson, Only, plus one of the boy’s friends and a guardian spent Saturday touring Rockefeller Center and FAO Schwartz, among some of New York’s top holiday destinations. During the visit, Nelson asked Only if there was anything special he could do for him during the game Sunday.
“He told me that after my first catch to point to the sky,” said Nelson, who had four receptions for 33 yards. “My first catch just happened to be a touchdown and I made sure to honor him at that moment.”
Only, wearing a green Jets jersey with Nelson’s No. 86, spent the afternoon in the stands after watching the players warm up from the sideline before the game. Nelson also posed for pictures with Only before getting ready to play.
Turned out, Only might have been a bit of a good-luck charm for Nelson, who scored his first two touchdowns of the season — against the team that cut him after training camp.
“I haven’t scored all year,” Nelson said, smiling, “so who would’ve thought I’d score two?”
Nelson made the highlight clips a couple of years ago when he had a TD catch for Buffalo against Dallas, then trotted the length of the field to present the ball to his girlfriend, a Cowboys cheerleader.
After these two touchdown grabs, the former college roommate of Tim Tebow at Florida was eager to get out of the locker room to rejoin Only and complete their terrific weekend.
“I wanted to wait until we saw how the game went,” Nelson said. “A loss was going to be a little bit of a different situation. Now that the game went so well, we’ll find something to do.”
Only, who was born in prison and raised in foster care, stood up in front of a church congregation in St. Petersburg, Fla., in October and boldly declared that he would “take anyone” to adopt him.
“Old or young, Dad or Mom, black, white, purple, I don’t care,” he said. “And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be.”
When Nelson heard about Only’s story, he immediately called his publicist to try to set up a meeting. Only, who has been featured on various news programs, will receive a chance at his dream as he’ll spend the holidays with prospective adoptive parents.
Nelson and Only had a long discussion Saturday about the boy’s life, and how his birth mother died last June. The moving experience helped the wide receiver get focused for the game against the Browns.
“It just changed perspective for me,” Nelson said. “Today, I was able to play loose and play free and let the game come to me and not try to stress or press about my performance and how many catches I was going to have.
“It all seemed meaningless after the conversation we had yesterday.”
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