At the time, after Super Bowl XLV in January 2011, it would be absurd to think that many fans would disapprove of Greg Jennings. In addition to two TD catches and what Aaron Rodgers refers to as the “throw of his life” late in the game 3 and 10, Greg’s spirit broke after the final pass and his legitimate glow in his post game interview after the game. Stick with us Jennings was one of the best people to carry the G, until he decided to put it down.
After the 2012 season, he was a free agent. He wanted a second non-rookie-deal and financial security, apparently, as do many players. But as we’ve learned time and again, Ted Thompson was the Packers who allowed a player to walk a year too late. And Greg was no exception. He paid to move to Minnesota to get that security with $18m guaranteed and $47.5m overall. It’s hard to blame a player for taking the bag, but it often comes with an inherited sacrifice. And Greg absolutely had to deal with it.
But it wasn’t just going to Minnesota. It was the talking-heads-Jennings that infuriated so many fans. If you were under a rock for much of the mid-2010s, Aaron Rodgers came under repeated scrutiny for his “lack of leadership” or “being a bad partner.” And there were repeated voices to make those claims, namely Germial Finlay. But unlike Finlay, Jennings was trying to make it on TV, and of course the one who makes it on TV is often hot. And even though what Jennings said about Rodgers was true in his opinion, he knew what he was doing. There’s no hot take quite like Aaron Rodgers’ hot take. And Greg made them great.
It was worn on us. We follow the team so closely, it’s impossible to avoid headlines like they’re regurgitated and informal. There is no way around it. So with the volume of Jennings’ name heating up more and more every few months, many fans saw it as being bitter about not getting the contract he wanted from the Packers. This is an understandable feeling. If he only wanted to go to Minnesota to stick to his former team, I think that’s an appropriate response as well. Greg made his bed and was forced to lie down.
But as time went on, the heat of Rodgers Hot Tekri began to cool. You didn’t hear about it as much, and you didn’t see Jennings around it as often. And then there was the announcement of the Packers Hall of Fame. For many, it didn’t conjure up memories of his Super Bowl touchdown or emotional post game presser. It dusted off the headlines that left fans disappointed. It reminded us that he ended up in Minnesota. Negative recency was forcing bias.
And that too was fixed. And as the ceremony drew to a close and the preseason transitions to the regular season, you’re sure to see more highlights from Jennings — and there’s more. Many of us, myself included at times, forgot how wonderful he was. You don’t score 43 touchdowns for the Green Bay Packers and aren’t great. He was an integral part in bridging the Favre-to-Rodgers gap, and became one of the reasons why Aaron Rodgers became so successful after taking over so early. On a long list of the greatest receivers in Green Bay Packers history, Greg is up.
And then came his induction speech. We saw the raw, emotional Jennings — you know, the one we saw after the Super Bowl — immediately. A tearful and honest Jennings opened up about his early struggles at Green Bay, his hilarious thoughts on his family when he moved to Minnesota, and the legacy he eventually touched with the team. It was, honestly, a beautiful speech. It was personal and transparent. It was everything we remembered about Greg before 2013.
Jennings ended with some stern words about “praise.” And in that spirit, it’s time to fully appreciate what they did to bring Greg Jennings and Lombardi back home. It’s time to applaud the game-winner in Denver. It’s time to applaud the big catch in the Big Game. It’s time to applaud the man who carried the team on his back, Doe. It’s time to forgive Greg Jennings and focus on one of the best players to ever play for the Green Bay Packers.