But since my kids don't read my column, allow me to echo the thoughts of every Packers fan when I emphatically tell once-beloved receiver Greg Jennings to shut up. No, really. Shut up! Please. Do it for yourself, if not for your former fans, teammates, and coaches.
It's not because Jennings is now a Viking. For anyone familiar with my love of Brett Favre, I had nothing but words of support for him when he donned the purple and put up one of the best seasons of his career. He didn't hide his disdain for the Packers' brass that well at the time, but given how messy that sports divorce was, you could kind of understand it.
This I don't understand. Not really.
Jennings has been on a bender about Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers being selfish and coddled. He questioned Rodgers' leadership. And he was refusing to even call his former quarterback by name, referring to him as "12." Jennings went out of his way to compliment Favre – which, while likely genuine, seemed done with the intent of jamming a stick in Rodgers' ribs more than anything else
Now, Jennings spouted off on Minneapolis' KFAN radio that the Packers "brainwash" their players into thinking the organization is the best and everyone else in the NFC North is "tiers below," as he said. It's possible Green Bay is a gridiron version of Scientology, casting Jennings as a much-less attractive Katie Holmes. But might it possibly have anything to do with the 13 world championships? Or that they just won a Super Bowl a few years ago? Or that they have the best quarterback in the league? And arguably the best pass rusher? Or that the other NFC North teams really are tiers below Green Bay? Nope, it must be the shock treatments and the subliminal messages they're inserting on player iPads.
Even Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has told Jennings to drop the venom for all things Packers and focus on his current team. But he apparently can't help himself. And that's why I want him to shut up. Somewhere deep down, I still want to like Jennings. I remember him at his rookie training camp. He stood out in a way few rookies ever do. He was an impact player from the get-go and a weekly highlight, whether it was an overtime walk-off touchdown at Denver with Favre slinging it, or hauling in a Rodgers bullet in Super Bowl XLV.
But while the charismatic kid from Western Michigan never seemed to have a hint of "diva" in him, he's all about himself right now. Let's be clear, this is more than playful banter with his former team and quarterback. And it's hardly being done to add fuel to the cross-state divisional rivalry. This is about Jennings having hurt feelings about the way his time in Green Bay ended. At least own it. Don't talk tough and then hide behind clichés about your comments being taken out of context.
This story likely begins in the 2010 postseason, when Jordy Nelson burst onto the scene with monster games in Atlanta and against Pittsburgh in the championship. He could've easily been the Super Bowl MVP instead of Rodgers, with nine catches for 140 yards and a score.
The following season, Nelson picked up right where he left off, hauling in 68 passes for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns compared to Jennings' 67 grabs for 949 yards and nine touchdowns in three fewer games. Green Bay's offense is about spreading the ball around. Anyone could be the star any week. Looking back, Jennings might not have loved that.
Last season, Jennings was sidelined for eight games with a nagging rectus abdominus tear. Basically, a sports hernia. That can cause pain when you bend, twist or sneeze, let alone play football. Toughness is appreciated in the NFL. But so is attendance. You're expected to play with some pain. Not injury, per se, but late in the year, no one is 100 percent healthy. Was there a feeling in the locker room that Jennings might've been protecting himself — and his free agent market value — by not coming back until he was completely healthy and pain free? It's hard to say. But if you're playing with aches and pains and gutting it out, you want the other guys in the locker room to do the same.
And when Jennings finally did come back and wasn't the go-to, focal point of the offense, did it rub him the wrong way? It seems so now. In Jennings' absence, James Jones stepped up with a league-leading 14 receiving touchdowns, and Randall Cobb led all Packers receivers with 80 receptions and set a new all-purpose yardage mark with 2,342 as the team's Swiss Army knife.
It's not like the offense was better without Jennings, but it sure wasn't worse without him. Guessing he didn't love that, either. And when his sister went on some bizarre Twitter tirade blasting Rodgers, that didn't come out of nowhere. Would one of your family members go off publicly about a friend or co-worker if they hadn't heard that same type of sentiment from you personally?
Jennings made a very public show of taking down all the pictures and personal effects from his locker before doing his season-ending interview with the press following the playoff loss to San Francisco. The writing was on the wall big and bold that Green Bay didn't need to overpay for Jennings services with Nelson, Jones and Cobb in the fold – even with the retirement of Donald Driver. But there was certainly no ill will, and nothing other than gratitude expressed for the type of player and person Jennings was from the moment they drafted him. He was well-liked, classy and immensely talented. Of course someone would pay a lot for his services. But given his age, recent injuries and their roster, it wasn't going to be the Packers.
When Jennings finally signed with Minnesota, he took out a full-page ad in several local papers thanking the team, city and fans. Stop there and it's a fitting epitaph to his legacy in Green Bay. And even though he was going to the hated Vikings, it was hard to find anyone who didn't wish him well.
But these odd and ill-timed rants will quickly tarnish his time in Titletown. And on a Vikings team with an average-at-best quarterback in Christian Ponder, that used a first-round pick on receiver Cordelle Patterson, and has a run-first philosophy with reigning league MVP Adrian Peterson at running back, Jennings may never get the opportunity to be "the guy" again or in a position to endear himself to a team and fan base the way he did in Green Bay.
He should think about that the next time he's about to open his mouth.
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W. Keith Roerdink has covered the Packers since 1992. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.