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It has been an interesting training camp for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
On the field it seems he is well on his way to another Pro Bowl-caliber season and playoff run. Off the field he is dodging barbs tossed his way from two of his former favorite targets, Greg Jennings and Donald Driver.
Jennings comments have been more pointed, where Driver’s remarks were stated in a manner that was candid, however friendly, but still had a bit of sting to them.
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Greg Jennings is upset because the Packers would not shower him in cash for what he thought was an illustrious career with the green and gold.
NFL wide receivers as a whole have long had a reputation for possessing a diva personality. I think it’s safe to say Jennings is the poster child for this stereotype. He feels rejected by the Green Bay Packers and he is acting out accordingly.
Driver, on the other hand, seems to empathize with Jennings. On the August 15 Jim Rome show, Driver told Kyle Brandt, who was filling Jim Rome’s chair while he was on vacation, “It’s one of those relationships, like a marriage, when you split up, you have a bad divorce, that’s what Greg and the Packers are going through right now.”
He went on to say that Greg Jennings is always a Green Bay Packer and eluded to Jennings one day retiring as a Packer.
Driver was busy; he also went on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike.” On that show he spoke a bit about how he perceived the personality of Aaron Rodgers and if the Packers quarterback is a “Me Guy.”
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“We’ve always been in the room and we’ve always said that the quarterback is the one who needs to take the pressure off of everyone else. If a guy runs the wrong route, it’s easy for the quarterback to say, ‘Hey, I told him to run that route,’ than the guy to say, ‘Hey, I ran the wrong route.’ Sometimes you ask Aaron to take the pressure off those guys so we don’t look bad. He didn’t want to do that. He felt like if you did something bad, you do it. That’s the difference. You want that leadership. I think sometimes you may not feel like you got it. You have to earn that respect at the end of the day. I think that’s probably what Greg is referring to.”
It seems Driver and assumingly Jennings wanted Rodgers to cover their backsides when they made mistakes. From the outside looking in, Rodgers appears to be someone who demands responsibility for one’s actions. I presume it is part of his character, and in my mind definitely a leadership quality – he demands accountability.
Driver also discussed another one of Jennings favorite subjects, the comparison between Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre. On the Jim Rome show Kyle Brandt fished for answers like he was a host of the World Fishing Network. He asked Driver three questions, all of which Driver answered with Brett Favre.
First he asked Driver, “From the wide receiver standpoint, who was the easier quarterback to play with?” His follow up question was “Fourth Quarter, two minute drill, you need six, you gotta go 80 yards – Do you want 4 or 12?” Brandt’s last question was intriguing, “You gotta drive cross-country it’s an eight day trip – convertible – who do you want sitting shot gun this whole ride, Rodgers or Favre?”
Jennings earlier this summer also made statements in which he professed he believed Favre was a better quarterback than Rodgers. Jennings made it clear that Favre is the quarterback he would prefer to go into battle with. In doing so he made a point to not mention Rodgers by name. Instead he referred to Rodgers as that other guy or 12.
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Aaron Rodgers, to his credit, has been relatively quiet on the issue. On July 26 Tom Silverstein and Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel relayed Rodgers’ comments on Jennings’ remarks at the time.
“I’ve got a great responsibility to the guys in this locker room and the fans, and at this point, I don’t have a whole lot of time or energy to spend worrying about things that are said outside the building,” Rodgers said. “I know those are stories for you guys (reporters), but personally, I’m focused on this team.
“Obviously, you hear about them, but I’m not going to spend a lot of time or energy on them.”
In April 2013, as we know, Aaron Rodgers signed a robust $110 million contract, a reported $62.5 million of that deal guaranteed. Rodgers made that money throwing the football to the open receiver. The Packers basic offensive system, dating back to the 1990s, is predicated around throwing to the open receiver. The quarterback is throwing to a green and gold jersey, not a particular person. If the receiver is open they get ball.
Jennings and Driver’s vindictive comments regarding Rodgers are one part ego, one part pride, and one part jealousy. Both Jennings and Driver believe when they step on the field they are the best wide receiver in the game, they have to. But as they learned, Rodgers doesn’t necessarily need the best receivers in the NFL to be successful. He needs receiver to get open and catch the ball when it is delivered to them. And over the past five years he has become the best quarterback in the game doing so.
Both of these two former Packers receivers are jealous of Rodgers jaw-dropping contract. Unfortunately for Jennings and Driver the economics of the NFL are stride for stride with life outside the lines. Basic demand theory, there is only one quarterback, but as many as five receivers on every offensive play. Because of this the quarterback is going to get paid. Receivers are expendable, their skills are more abundant and in less demand than the quarterback.
Jennings believes Rodgers cost him money and his career with the Packers because Rodgers didn’t favor him, he threw to the open green and gold jersey. Driver feels the same way. If Rodgers would have “given” him a few more opportunities each game, maybe insisted he stick around rather than retire, Driver would still be on the field.
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As for the Brett Favre comparisons, this also falls under the jealousy umbrella. What better way to hit a supposed over-sensitive character like Rodgers than state that Brett Favre, his predecessor, is better than him. Jennings and Driver believe good ol’ boy Brett Favre would have played favorites with them and allowed them to be showcased in the offense in turn making them more money and keeping them on the field. We all have “what ifs” in our lives and superstar NFL players are apparently no different.
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In my mind, the departure of both Jennings and Driver are a positive for the 2013 Green Bay Packers. Jennings with his contract concerns and “gimme the ball” attitude and Driver with his impending retirement were a distraction to the 2012 Packers.
Now Rodgers and the Packers offense can look to utilize all their components without the squeak and squeal from these older parts.
This should make for a fine-tuned Green Bay Packers offense.