GREEN BAY – Nancee Lingg’s love for her grandchildren knows no bounds, even when it means making a cross-country commute to be there for them.
So this past week the 82-year-old grandmother of nine and great-grandmother to nine made the solo trek from her home in Harlingen, Texas, to Wisconsin in time for Appleton Xavier High School’s graduation Wednesday.
It just so happened another individual who calls Texas home, Packers running back Aaron Jones, was on the same connecting flight as Lingg from Chicago to Appleton on Monday night.
Jones spent Memorial Day weekend home in El Paso before taking an evening flight back to Green Bay for Wednesday’s organized team activities. He noticed Lingg in a nearby seat shortly after boarding before putting on his headphones and falling asleep.
Once the plan landed shortly after 9 p.m., passengers predictably pushed to exit. As Jones looked to collect his belongings, he noticed Lingg struggling to get out of her seat to de-board the plane and asked if she’d like assistance.
“She had a cane, she was dragging her bags, and I was like, ‘Do you need help?’” said Jones on Thursday. “She said yes, so I started carrying her bags and when we were walking off the plane, the flight attendant told her that there would be somebody there to push her with a wheelchair. There were wheelchairs when we walked, but nobody was there, and the wheelchairs were folded up.”
With no sign of help, Jones asked Lingg if she’d like him to push her to the baggage claim area, where her daughter-in-law, Jackie Lingg, was scheduled to pick her up.
As the two chatted about their ties to Texas, a fellow passenger snapped a photo of Jones wheeling Lingg through the airport and tweeted it. As of Thursday evening, it had gained more than 3,400 retweets and 18,000 likes.
After watching the rest of the passengers pass through security, Jackie was surprised to find Jones pushing her mother-in-law. She didn’t know Jones was a Packers player until finally asking.
“My mom thought he worked for the airlines, which is pretty funny,” said Teresa Lingg, Jackie’s daughter. “It was really cool. He seems like a standup guy. My mom and grandma both said, ‘He must have been raised very well.’”
The gesture meant a lot to the Lingg family, especially after Nancee’s husband of 61 years, Paul, passed away in February. The two lived throughout the United States and traveled to over 100 countries around the world, with frequent trips to Mexico and Hong Kong.
This weekend, Nancee, Teresa and the rest of the family are traveling back to Texas for his memorial service.
Jones deflected any praise or compliments for the actions, but the small act of goodwill left a positive impression on his family, teammates and Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
“I’ll tell you, it brings a big smile to my face when it comes across my phone,” McCarthy said. “I’m thankful that everybody else is getting to see what I get to see pretty much every day. This is a tremendous locker room. We’ve been very fortunate and blessed with the caliber of character that we have in our locker room. So when things like that are expressed, especially on social media, it brings a smile to my face.
“I’m sure obviously he probably didn’t even know someone took that picture. That’s just the type of guy he is.”
As Nancee continues her travels, Jones prepares to take the next step after a promising rookie season in which he rushed for 448 yards and four touchdowns on 81 carries (5.5 avg).
Born into a military family with a “yes, sir/yes, ma’am” mentality, Jones was happy to lend a helping hand and make Lingg’s day just a little bit easier.
“It’s just something that anybody else would do,” Jones said. “When it gets back to your head coach or your parents and they see you doing good when nobody else is watching, I think it makes them feel pretty good.”