At the time, in January 2011 after Super Bowl XLV, it was absurd to think that many fans disowned Greg Jennings. Aside from the two TD saves and what Aaron Rodgers referred to as his “look at his life” on Days 3 and 10 of the game, Greg’s emotion after the final pass and his legitimate post-match brilliance broke in the post-match match. The interview remains with us. Jennings was one of the best people to ever hold the G. That is, until he decided to put it aside.
After the 2012 season, he was a free agent. He wanted a no-nonsense second deal and financial security, as a lot of players do. But as we’ve learned time and time again, it was the Ted Thompson Packers who let the player walk a year early in hindsight. Greg was no exception. He took his wages to go to Minnesota to get that insurance as much as $18 million guaranteed and $47.5 million overall. It’s hard to blame a player for taking the bag, but that often comes with a sacrifice in legacy. And Greg suffered just like that.
But it wasn’t just going to Minnesota. It was Talking Jennings that upset a lot of fans. In case you were under a rock for most of the mid-2010s, Aaron Rodgers was repeatedly scrutinized for his “lack of leadership” or “being a bad co-worker”. And there have been frequent voices making these claims, namely, Germichael Finley. But unlike Finley, Jennings has been trying to get him on TV, and what makes him appear on TV so often is his hot grab. And even if what Jennings said about Rodgers was true in his opinion, he knew what he was doing. There’s nothing as hot as eating a hot Aaron Rodgers. And Greg made them abundantly.
We wore it. We’re following the team closely, and it’s impossible to avoid the headlines, because they’re regurgitated and not as original as they are. There is no way around it. So with Jennings’ name size popping up every few months with more hot mattresses, many fans saw him as bitter about not getting the contract he wanted from the Packers. It’s an understandable emotion. If he wanted to go to Minnesota just to hook him up with his former team, I think that’s a reasonable reaction as well. Greg made his bed and was forced to lie in it.
But over time, the buzz of Rodgers’ hot bakeries started to get colder. She hadn’t heard much about her, and she hadn’t seen Jennings around often. Then the announcement came to the Packers Hall of Fame. For many, it didn’t evoke memories of his Super Bowl touchdown or emotional post-game stings. A flick of headlines that frustrated fans. We mentioned that he ended up in Minnesota. The negative was imposing the bias of modernity.
It also stabilized. And as the party got closer and pre-season moved into the regular season, I’m starting to see more of Jennings’ highlights—and there’s a lot more. Many of us, including myself at times, have forgotten how wonderful it was. You don’t score 43 touchdowns for the Green Bay Packers and you won’t be legendary. He was integral in bridging the Favre gap to Rodgers, and became one of the reasons for Aaron Rodgers’ success so quickly after taking charge. In a long list of the greatest receivers in the history of the Green Bay Packers, Greg is right there.
Then came his introductory speech. We saw Jennings’ emotional raw — you know, which we saw after the Super Bowl — right away. Honest and tearful Jennings opened eyes to his early struggles in Green Bay, his family’s hilarious thoughts about him going to Minnesota, and eventually touched upon his legacy with the team. It was honestly a beautiful speech. It was personal and transparent. Everything we remember about Greg was before 2013.
Jennings ended with some strong words of “appreciation.” And in that spirit, it’s time to fully appreciate Greg Jennings and all he did to bring Lombardy home. It’s time to judge the game winner in Denver. It’s time to appreciate the big catch in the big game. Time to appreciate the guy who put the team on his back, sweetie. It’s time to forgive Greg Jennings and focus on one of the best players ever on the Green Bay Packers.