GREEN BAY, Wis. — Every Wednesday before a game, a member of the opposing team speaks on a conference call with the media that covers the Green Bay Packers. It’s rarely a big deal, sometimes with as few as four reporters there to ask questions. But when former Packer and current Minnesota Vikings receiver Greg Jennings agreed to talk this week, it was a major event.
Nearly 20 media members stood around a speakerphone in a small room at Lambeau Field and asked Jennings about everything that’s gone on since he agreed to a contract with the Vikings in March.
Here’s the entire question-and-answer transcript with Jennings:
Q: How come you said the things that you said over the summer about Rodgers and this organization?
JENNINGS: “Ah, that’s behind me, it was really messing around with the guys. I have the utmost respect for that organization and the guys within that organization. He came out, Aaron said, ‘Greg who?’ (at the Wisconsin Sports Awards) so I was just messing with him with that. Other than that, they know I know I had seven awesome years over there and I respect everyone within that organization. Those guys that are currently there, still have relationships with them and respect them the utmost.”
Q: (Note: The phone connection wasn’t good for radio broadcast, so after re-connecting, Jennings was asked again …) Why did you say the things you said about Rodgers and the Packers?
JENNINGS: “That’s behind me, but at the same time I have the utmost respect for that organization. I was just really razzing a little bit with Aaron, just knowing how he is and just going back and forth with some of the guys. It wasn’t meant to hurt anyone’s feelings. It was just really messing around initially and then everyone kind of blew it a little bit out of proportion. I have the most respect for that organization. I had my most successful years there and I still have relations with some of the guys over there and still have the respect that I had when I was playing there with them. Even when I’m not (there) right now, I still have respect for them.”
Q: Do you wish Aaron Rodgers was still your quarterback?
JENNINGS: “No, man. God has blessed me to move on from that. I’ve embraced my situation and my role here and my teammates here.”
Q: What’s it been like dealing with three quarterbacks in six weeks when you had such stability at QB in Green Bay?
JENNINGS: “It’s been a challenge, but life throws you a lot of challenges, a lot of adversity, a lot of curveballs, and it’s been no different. It’s something that has been a humbling experience, but it’s been one that we can grow from and we have to build on.”
Q: What’s the most challenging aspect of working with three quarterbacks?
JENNINGS: “The timing, getting in sync with the quarterback, getting familiar with what he sees versus what just one guy sees. You have to deal with what three different guys are seeing, what they’re expecting, what they’re anticipating for the last four weeks. It’s all about ‘rhythming up’ and hopefully we can rhythm up with the guy who’s at the helm this week and we can have some success.”
Q: Have a sense that in being honest of your thoughts about Rodgers that you might be burning a bridge as a friend or a former teammate?
JENNINGS: “No. I’m not concerned about that. When you make comments and you say different things, again, if Aaron knows me like he’s known me over the past seven years, then he knows I’m not one of those guys that wishes ill will on anyone or tries to stand out and be apart from the team. Hopefully he knows that. Again, I can’t live in the past or what was said. I have to move on. I know and you guys know that he’s a great quarterback. He’s the best player in the game. So, (Jennings laughs), regardless of what anybody says, that’s not going to change, and that hasn’t changed.”
Q: Did you ever reach out to Rodgers to tell him you were just kidding? Did you guys ever talk?
JENNINGS: “No, we haven’t.”
Q: Were there things you weren’t happy about while you were in Green Bay? Did you take the joke too far as you continued talking negatively about Rodgers and the Packers?
JENNINGS: “I probably took it a little too far. No, I was happy there. Obviously there’s things that go on throughout life that you wish would be different. But it is what it is. You have to roll with the punches. Obviously, on my end of it, I feel like there were a lot of things that were kind of manipulated to appear a lot worse than what I was intending for them to be. That’s just, as a player, you have to watch what you say, so you learn and you grow.”
Q: Rodgers went to bat for James Jones, as did you; Were you disappointed Rodgers didn’t do the same for you?
JENNINGS: “No, it is what it is. It is what it is. No. We went to bat for James. I went to bat for anyone in that locker room, but like I said, it is what it is.”
Q: Did you want a brighter spotlight, given that the Packers had so many other talented receivers?
JENNINGS: “Uh, no. When the offseason came, I thought the best decision for my family and I was here. From all of us growing, not just myself, not just being in myself, but for my wife, my kids, and then myself. I’ve talked to Randall, I’ve talked to those guys over there. Like I said with them, if I had stayed, I could have been overshadowing some of those guys, not allowing them to flourish the way that I know that they’re capable of flourishing. Randall specifically, being kind of like a little brother, and playing with James and Jordy obviously, they had had opportunities to shine. But to move on as a way to allow them their due, it was time. It was just time. Like I said, I shared this with them. Same thing I’m saying to you, I’ve shared it with them. Had I stayed there, you know we would have been continuing to be looked at as an overall group, but they needed some attention individually. Specifically Randall, because he was the youngest. And James and Jordy, they had been putting up consistent play for the past few years. So they were getting their due and it was time for Randall.”
Q: So what does this game mean to you?
JENNINGS: “It means we need a win. (He laughs.) We need a win, we need No. 2 to go in the win column. Bottom line.”
Q: What do you think of Josh Freeman?
JENNINGS: “He’s a great guy. He’s a big, huge guy. He has incredible arm strength. I like his mindset, I like the way he approaches the game. It’s all about ‘rhythming up’ and getting that timing down.”
Q: How much have you thought about the way that Packers fans are going to react to you?
JENNINGS: “If Brett (Favre) was the face of the franchise and they responded like that with him, I’d think I’m going to get a lot of boos. But I can’t worry about that. No. 1, we’re not playing in Lambeau this week, so I don’t have to concern my mind and thoughts with that, which even if we were (going to Lambeau Field this week), I wouldn’t. I don’t play the game thinking of what the fans are going to think and what they’re going to say. There are going to be Greg Jennings fans, there are going to be Greg Jennings hate fans. It doesn’t matter if I said anything or did not say anything, or if I put on some other uniform, Greg fans are going to be Greg fans, and there are loyal Packers fans. You’ve got to respect them.”
Q: Is it important to you how you’re viewed in Green Bay? You had a lot of accomplishments in a Packers uniform.
JENNINGS: “I did, and like I said, I can’t take away from that. When I left, my wife and I put together a farewell deal, and that’s truly how I feel. God has allowed me to move on and embrace a new season in my life. I can’t complain about that. I’m embracing that with open arms. Do I still have ties there? Absolutely? Do we still have connections there? Absolutely. I still have a love for those fans and for that organization, absolutely, and the guys in that locker room. But I’m developing new ties, new relationships here.”
Q: If the joke went too far, as you said, why didn’t you reach out to some of the Packers players and say sorry?
JENNINGS: “You see, that’s between me and the guys. I did reach out to some of the guys and I still talk to some of the guys. Like I said, I’ve addressed that. That’s over. It’s done. I love you guys.”
Q: Why do you feel the Vikings are struggling right now?
JENNINGS: “(He laughs.) Because we’re not putting together a solid four quarters of play all across the board. It’s not a one-quarter, one-down, one-series game. It’s a game you have to play for 60 minutes, four quarters. If you let up throughout any of that course of time, you leave yourself susceptible to defeat. That’s what’s been taking place. We’ve had success throughout the course of games but we haven’t been able to sustain it, so that’s what we’re looking to do this week.”
Q: Was it fair to Josh Freeman to be thrown into the mix so quickly?
JENNINGS: “I don’t think it really matters what I personally think. But there’s a saying that goes, ‘life isn’t fair.’ He was forced into a tough situation; a very, very tough situation. To be thrown in and have to obtain all the verbiage, the game plan and the scheme that we run, I thought he did an outstanding job of grabbing hold of that and running with it. But we didn’t have success and it wasn’t just because of Josh. There were times we didn’t catch the ball, we didn’t make plays for him. He missed some throws that he wished he could have back. Across the board, it was a team loss. It wasn’t just Josh. But it was a tough situation to be thrown into but we are professionals and I think Josh would say the same thing. You know, he doesn’t feel that it was an overwhelming situation that he couldn’t handle. Like I said, I can’t speak for Josh, but me personally we are all professionals.”
Q: Freeman has a concussion and might not play in this game, so the Vikings are planning to go back to Christian Ponder. How different has it been working with Ponder compared to Rodgers?
JENNINGS: “I’m not trying to compare quarterbacks. I have enough comparisons to make just trying to rhythm up with three different guys over here. I’m not trying to remember what took place with Aaron. That was last year and years prior. All I can do now is rhythm up with my quarterbacks, watch film with them and make sure I’m doing my job to make his job that much easier.”
Q: When you first got to the Vikings you spoke highly of Ponder. Now that you’ve worked with Ponder, what do you think of him?
JENNINGS: “I think he’s a great guy. I think he’s one of those guys that he has all the tools, it’s just about putting them together on a consistent basis and getting guys to rhythm up with him around him and to make plays for him and him making plays for us. We have an opportunity to do something special and unique coming out of this hole, and Christian may be our guy to help us do that, and Josh may be our guy, (Matt) Cassel may be our guy. We’ll see.”
Q: After what you went through last year, are you 100 percent healthy? If so, what’s that been like?
JENNINGS: “My body feels great. Last year was a tough year for me, not being able to play. This year, I’ve been able to play. My body feels great, and I’m just looking to fit in even more, embracing the role that I have and trying to make plays for my team.”