Did Greg Jennings refuse to refer to Aaron Rodgers by name out of malice, or was the new Minnesota Vikings receiver simply taking a playful shot at his former quarterback? Did Jennings imply that he’d prefer to play with Brett Favre over Rodgers, or was the phrasing of his response just confusing?
These are the questions still unanswered after Jennings sat down for a question-and-answer interview this week with the Pioneer Press in Minnesota.
Jennings was asked by reporter Bob Sansevere about Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, prefacing the question by stating that Jennings played with two potential Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Green Bay.
“When you talk about comparing quarterbacks, it’s hard to compare guys,” Jennings replied. “I’ll take Brett. He did it for so long. I got there in a period of time where Brett already was there (as an elite quarterback). Then the guy they have now, he sat behind Brett and he learned so much. Christian didn’t really have that opportunity. He had to jump in. The way you compare them has to be a little different.
“The guy they have now (Rodgers) was (essentially) a veteran rookie. It’s a little different, but Christian has tremendous upside. I think what I see now is a quarterback who’s maturing and who’s growing and wanting to learn and grow, which is huge.”
With fans in both Wisconsin and Minnesota – as well as nationwide – attempting to decipher Jennings’ comments, let’s break it down, starting with Jennings twice referring to Rodgers as “the guy they have now.”
There was some friction late last season when Jennings’ sister, Valyncia, blasted Rodgers during – coincidentally enough – a Packers-Vikings game in Minnesota. Valyncia Jennings posted several messages on her Twitter account during that game, including one in which she called Rodgers an “idiot.” A couple of Valyncia Jennings’ other tweets described Rodgers as “the most overrated QB in the league,” while adding that Rodgers “acts like he doesn’t want to throw to (Greg Jennings).”
Is any of that related to the latest Rodgers-Jennings drama? Jennings insisted at the time that his sister’s feelings about Rodgers did not come as a result of any negative conversations the two ever had about the former NFL Most Valuable Player.
It’s also possible that Jennings describing Rodgers as “the guy they have now” is a reaction — perhaps good-natured, perhaps not — to what Rodgers said recently. At the Wisconsin Sports Awards in April, Rodgers appeared to be joking when he replied, “Who?” when asked about Jennings.
Jennings’ wife, Nicole, seemed to think her husband wasn’t overly angry at Rodgers. Nicole Jennings posted on Twitter: “Don’t u hate it when ppl TRY to make nothing into something..smh.. #annoyed.” She later sent a response tweet to a fan with a link to a story that referenced Rodgers responding “Who?” about her husband.
The other controversial aspect of Jennings’ Q-and-A with Sansevere is when he said, “I’ll take Brett.” This one is more simple to dissect, yet it still lacks clarity.
Jennings was not specifically asked to compare Favre and Rodgers with Ponder. Jennings chose to take his answer in that direction. But, did Jennings mean, ‘I’ll first talk about Brett,’ or did he mean ‘I’ll take Brett over Rodgers’ if asked to choose between the two quarterbacks?
The public reaction seems to be fairly split as to how fans are interpreting that comment from Jennings, but his actual meaning remains unclear.
Current Packers wide receiver James Jones, who played six seasons with Jennings in Green Bay, added a bit of his own flavor to it this week.
“I don’t like Greg no more,” Jones said in the locker room Wednesday. “He left us.”
Jones is referring to how Jennings chose to sign with the division-rival Vikings this offseason. The Packers had an offer on the table to re-sign Jennings, but it was reportedly for less money than what Minnesota was willing to give.
Jennings’ somewhat cryptic comments about Rodgers have provided more questions than answers. But one thing is for sure: The Packers-Vikings rivalry is definitely starting to heat up again.