Earlier today, Greg Jennings formally announced his retirement on YouTube.
The one-time Green Bay Packer has closed the book on a successful career that saw him emerge as the team’s premiere deep threat from 2006 through the 2012 season.
One of the lasting impressions I have of the Kalamazoo, Mich., native is of him proudly talking into a Fox microphone following Green Bay’s 31-25 Super Bowl XLV victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in February 2011. He basked in the glory of a magical season with his two daughters beside him.
It was oh so fitting that Jennings was on the receiving end of an Aaron Rodgers 8-yard touchdown pass that put away the Steelers for good that evening.
The former second-round pick came into the league with 4.42 speed and authored three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from 2008 through 2010.
The reason I harbor mixed feelings about Jennings’ legacy as a Packer is the classless way he spoke about his former quarterback once he signed with the rival Vikings in 2013.
The veteran wideout divulged his frustration with all the attention and accolades Rodgers received when he issued the following quote to Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune: “A lot of times when you have a guy who creates that spotlight for himself and establishes that and takes a lot of that, it becomes so-and-so and the team.”
I don’t have first-hand knowledge about how Rodgers acts with his teammates in and out of the locker room, but by all accounts the 32-year-old signal caller has always made the effort to befriend his teammates and making them feel like important members of the squad.
In fact, he is well known for introducing himself to every teammate, getting their cell-phone numbers and never forgetting to annually wish them a “happy birthday.”
Rodgers has always embraced the role of not only being the team’s starting quarterback, but also being a leader. No one ever accused him of being aloof – Jay Cutler he is not.
And as for Mr. Discount-Double-Check getting too much attention … which top quarterback doesn’t? It’s the world we live in. The NFL uses its best quarterbacks to promote and sell the game.
In another quote attributed to Jennings, he began his commentary by stating, “Don’t get me wrong, “12” is a great person, but …” Well, if he is a great guy, why not just leave it at that? What did Jennings have to gain by verbally railroading his teammate?
I guess the former Packer might have been bitter about his original team not re-signing him and felt that burning bridges was a great way to reignite his career and show the guys in Green Bay that he could flourish without the great No. 12 firing passes in his direction.
But where Jennings totally lost me, and a whole host of Packers fans as well, is when he compared his then-new quarterback, Christian Ponder, to Rodgers on ESPN’s First Take, claiming that the young Florida State product merely lacked the right kind of receivers to reach the levels of his Green Bay counterpart.
Was that the only thing separating Ponder from Rodgers?
How did that work out, Greg?
The reality was that Jennings was at the tail end of his career once Green Bay moved on from him. He expressed negative thoughts about Rodgers, but only put up pedestrian numbers in his three years with Minnesota and Miami.
In his public farewell, the 10-year pro said he was “done with football” when in reality the game was done with him months ago, as evidenced by his street free-agent status prior to today’s announcement.
A defiant Jennings continued by adding he “can still play.” I’m certain he can, but just not at a high-enough level to justify any team letting him take snaps away from a younger receiver with more upside.
And so ends the career of a terrific Packers receiving weapon who, in all fairness, was a very likable personality during his seven-year tenure in the Dairy State. Jennings appeared to be a thoughtful and articulate individual in his dealings with the media, but his actions during the aftermath of his departure from Green Bay speak volumes.
The Packers organization will probably let bygones be bygones and celebrate Jennings’ accomplishments during a halftime ceremony in a few years, but the way the now-retired game breaker went out kicking and screaming in 2013 just continues to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Let me know your lasting impressions of No. 85, Cheeseheads.