Nelson is dealing with grief his way

Published: Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Reggie Nelson was at Media Day on Friday — after it ended.

The Florida All-American safety made an appearance on the field while members of the media were up in the press box munching on ribs and chicken.

Nelson came with the team to the stadium where he will play on Monday night, but stayed in the locker room while everyone else participated in an hour-long interview session. The reason he came to the stadium was to be in on the team picture.

All players are required to appear at Media Day or they are ineligible to play according to the BCS contract. But Florida asked for an exemption for Nelson, whose mother passed away just before Christmas, it was granted by BCS administrator Bill Hancock.

Nelson did issue a statement that read: "The emotional support and respect for the privacy of my family over the past weeks has been tremendous. At this time I would like to continue to keep my feelings personal."

Nelson and several other players went onto the field for a brief time and tossed footballs around and fielded punts to get used to the stadium.

"We had a little talk last night," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "He is not going to come out here today and I appreciate everybody — the media's been fantastic. They backed off him. If you've ever gone through that, then you know what I'm talking about.

"Will focus be an issue? Of course it will. But I think he is that good a player. He prepares himself very well for games."

Meyer met with Nelson on Thursday night to ask him if he wanted to participate in Media Day.

"Reggie doesn't want to talk about it," said defensive backs coach Chuck Heater. "He wants to be left alone."

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