Mike Nelms
No. 21
Position:Defensive back / Kick returner / Punt returner
Personal information
Born: (1955-04-08) April 8, 1955 (age 68)
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
Career information
High school:Fort Worth (TX) Wyatt
NFL draft:1977 / Round: 7 / Pick: 170
(By the Buffalo Bills)
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Kickoff return yards:4,128
Punt return yards:1,948
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Michael Craig Nelms (born April 8, 1955) is an American former professional football player who was a defensive back and kick returner in the National Football League (NFL) for five seasons with the Washington Redskins from 1980 to 1984. Before his NFL career, Nelms played in the Canadian Football League (CFL). He played college football for the Baylor Bears.

College career

Nelms began his college career at Sam Houston State in 1973.[1] He then transferred to Baylor University, where he played for the Bears under head coach Grant Taeff. Nelms played defensive back in college and also returned kicks on occasion. During his college career at Baylor, he only returned a handful of kicks, but he did have one interception [2]

Professional career

Nelms began his professional career after being drafted by the Buffalo Bills. He was the last cut in training camp.[3] He then signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL in 1977.[4] Later that year, he was optioned to the Ottawa Rough Riders.[5]

Nelms was a three-time Pro Bowler in 1980, 1981 and 1982. He led the NFL in yards per kickoff return twice (1981, 1982) and was the Redskins starting punt returner in Super Bowl XVII. In Super Bowl XVII, he returned six punts for 52 yards, both Super Bowl records, along with two kickoff returns for 44 yards.

Nelms finished his five seasons with 175 kickoff returns for 4,128 yards, 212 punt returns for 1,948 yards and two touchdowns, and one interception in 68 games. Nelms earned his interception in a 30–17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and the expense of 49ers quarterback Joe Montana.[6]

After football

Mike formerly owned Champion Chevrolet Toyota in Culpeper, Virginia.[7] His son, Kirkland, received a scholarship to play at University of Massachusetts Amherst.[8] Nelms also has three daughters, who each went on to play collegiate athletics, including Kurstin Nelms, who ran track for Columbia University.[9]

In 2017, Mike Nelms was inducted into the D.C. sports Hall of Fame. He joined Redskins legends Mark Moseley, Art Monk, Chris Hanburger, Ken Houston, Darrell Green, and Russ Grimm. Other members of the hall include Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky, Tony Kornheiser, and former Capitals play by play announcer Ron Weber.[10]


  1. ^ "Mike Nelms athletic career, photos, articles, and videos | Fanbase". Archived from the original on 2014-10-04. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
  2. ^ "Mike Nelms College Stats | College Football at Sports-Reference.com".
  3. ^ "FindArticles.com - CBSi". Findarticles.com. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Hamilton Tiger-Cats Alumni Association". Archived from the original on 2015-10-10. Retrieved 2011-01-23.
  5. ^ "Rough Riders Player Database". Archived from the original on 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
  6. ^ "San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins - October 4th, 1981 | Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  7. ^ "Mike Nelms Champion Toyota". Merchantcircle.com. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  8. ^ "Where Are They Now – Mike Nelms". Archived from the original on 2012-03-31. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
  9. ^ "The Free Lance-Star - Google News Archive Search". News.google.com. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Mike Nelms Will be Inducted into D.C. Sports Hall of Fame".