Greg Jennings (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
Greg Jennings wishes he could change what he said about the Packers and Aaron Rodgers, but he knows he has to accept it and move forward. He called them a crisis he brought on himself.
The westward migration of longtime Green Bay Packers to the Minnesota Vikings is nothing new. Long before Greg Jennings crossed the border of Wisconsin, he was preceded by Ryan Longwell, Robert Ferguson and Brett Favre in recent history.
Favre raised the animosity bar between the organizations and the fan bases when he orchestrated a trade to Jets and, a year later, his release from New York to join the Vikings. When Jennings came over from Green Bay to Minnesota, he began a process of throwing jabs at the organization that made no effort to re-sign him before he entered free agency and his former quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Between interviews and a short-lived Twitter war, he fired a few shots across the border, among them being that Rodgers liked to hog the media spotlight for himself and put himself above the team, that Rodgers was overly sensitive about his image and referring to him in interviews simply as “12” (his number rather than mentioning him by name).
Rodgers responded to the barbs by saying, “People taking shots at me who aren’t relevant to this team and to this locker room don’t mean a whole lot to me.” Whether or not he took the pokes and jabs from Jennings to heart or not – he claimed otherwise – in the instant news world, Jennings’ comments went viral.
On Wednesday, Jennings tried to backtrack a little bit, but took ownership of starting a war of words that escalated farther than he thought possible. Jennings became one of hundreds of players over the years that envisioned playing with the same team for his entire career. But with an infusion of talent with less expensive young receivers, Jennings was expendable and some of his comments had been made out of a sense of professional spite, much in the same way Favre wanted to stick it to Ted Thompson for cutting ties with him.
“At this point, it’s behind me,” Jennings said. “There are things that take place in life that you wish didn’t happen, but you grow from it. If a crisis occurred in your life – and you may have brought it on yourself – but if you focus on just the crisis and not focus on how to overcome the crisis, you’re going to stay within the crisis. That’s kind of how I have approached this situation.”
Jennings seemed genuinely contrite. What were off-hand remarks intended to be “bulletin-board material” started trending worldwide. He regrets some of the statements he made. A few interviews this spring don’t replace seven years of a commitment to an organization, he hoped. While taking ownership of his misstatements, Jennings said he maintains significant friendships that will last long after his playing career is done and that he holds no animosity toward the Packers.
“There were some things said that, if I could say it over again, I would have to reword it so it could be conveyed a little differently,” Jennings said. “They were said. I can’t focus on that. I have to focus on the now and who I am and where I am now. I have a lot of love for everyone in that locker room. I haven’t no hatred for anyone – I know this a rivalry, but I don’t hate anyone over there. The organization was great to me, the fans were great to me and the guys continue to be great to me. I still have relationships with those guys.”
For his part, Jennings extended the olive branch Wednesday. Whether it’s accepted by Rodgers and his former teammates will likely be visible Sunday night. It may be a different story a month from today at Lambeau Field. But Jennings hopes the hard feeling are over and wants to put all the spring unpleasantness behind him.
“There were things said that, if I could take back, I would,” Jennings said. “I absolutely would. But, I can’t. I have to live life with the cards that I dealt myself and the cards that are sometimes dealt not of your own choice.”
Apparently full moons have collided to make the NFL a Bizzaro World. Exhibit 1: Jeff Garcia, age 43, outside an unemployment office near you, said he wants to join the Vikings to mentor Josh Freeman, telling USA Today Freeman is “fixable.” Garcia isn’t looking to join the organization as a coach. He wants to be the third quarterback.
Exhibit 2: The misguided column suggesting the Vikings trade Adrian Peterson for an impossible cache of cash and prizes has actually sparked its own version of Sharknado – or, perhaps more appropriately Shartnado. With the trade deadline looming, idea-starved columnists have pondered what Peterson would actually be worth in trade value. While on the subject, they have also theorized what Jared Allen, in the final year of his contract, is worth on the newly-created but yet to be abused in-season extended trade market. Stay tuned.
Exhibit 3: The Vikings felt a moral obligation to remind fans that they may have counterfeit tickets for Sunday’s game and, if they don’t pass the scanner test, fans with fake tickets don’t get in. At a time when legitimate tickets can be purchased and transactions made on a scan of a piece of printer paper, fans need to be on guard.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.