Now that Greg Jennings has traded in his Green Bay Packers green and gold for Minnesota Vikings purple, the former Green Bay receiver is free to speak his mind on quarterback Aaron Rodgers—and he's not mincing his words.
Speaking with reporters as he prepares for his first training camp with the Vikings, the 29-year-old receiver called out his former signal-caller for not always putting the team first.
UPDATE: Thursday, Aug. 1, at 8:13 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
Star Tribune reporter Mark Craig interviewed Jennings about his comments on Rodgers. When asked if he had apologized, Jennings had this to say:
No. For what? I'm apologizing right now. If it got to him with [the media] right now, I feel if I apologize right here, he'll hear that, too. Will you make sure he hears that?
He also had this to say about Rodgers in general:
Aaron's a phenomenal quarterback. He knows that. No one needs to tell him that. What he's done over the course of the last five years? Phenomenal. He set the bar high for quarterbacks in this league. He set the bar high for offenses in this league. Everything I say is all out of fun. I'm just saying something just to say it. They know that's not me.
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UPDATE: Saturday, July 27, at 3:21 p.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo
ESPN's Kevin Seifert passes along this quote from Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier, who spoke with KFAN-100.3 about Jennings' controversial comments on Aaron Rodgers:
"That's not something that we're high on," Frazier said, reiterating what he earlier told KFAN-100.3, "and he and I are going to talk before we practice [Saturday afternoon]. I've got to grab him. That's not how we do things. We'll talk. We're going to talk about it. He has strong feelings regarding his former team, and that's good. But there is a way to get that communicated, and we've got to sit down and he and I have got to talk a little bit."
---End of update---
“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,” Jennings said, according to Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune). “It should always be the team.”
While Jennings has always been known for his tongue-in-cheek candor with the media, his claims that Rodgers cannot handle criticism seemed to be said without jest:
Don’t get me wrong, "12" is a great person. But when you hear all positives, all positives, all positives all the time, it’s hard for you to sit down when one of your teammates says, "Man, come on, you’ve got to hold yourself accountable for this."
It’s hard for someone to see that now because all they’ve heard is I’m doing it the right way, I’m perfect. In actuality, we all have flaws.
Jennings spent his first seven seasons in Green Bay. In that time, Jennings amassed 425 receptions for 6,537 yards and 53 touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl in 2010 and 2011, scorching defenses down the field to the tune of 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns three seasons ago.
While Jennings, a second-round pick in 2006, has always been considered a talented deep threat, he never truly thrived until Rodgers became the full-time starter in 2008. The duo became known as one of the best quarterback-receiver tandems in the league, corresponding with their rise to national prominence.
But injuries over the past two seasons slowly forced Jennings out of the Packers' long-term plans—and seemingly frayed his relationship with his quarterback. Jennings played in only half of Green Bay's regular-season contests last season, setting career lows in receptions (36), yards (366) and yards per catch (10.2).
In that time, Jennings fell on the Packers' receiving depth chart, as youngsters like Randall Cobb broke out into burgeoning stars.
Taking advantage of Green Bay's lack of interest, the Vikings signed Jennings to a five-year, $47.5 million deal with $18 million guaranteed in March.
During that time, Jennings has increasingly been more open about the bad taste left in his mouth by Green Bay—and specifically Rodgers. He openly compared Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder to Rodgers and Brett Favre on ESPN's First Take, saying the separation from the two had more to do with receivers being around them than anything.
He also cryptically mentioned the phrase "you get respect when you give respect," when referring to Rodgers. In another interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press' Bob Sansevere, Jennings, for the first time, admitted he'd take Favre over Rodgers when comparing the two future Hall of Famers.
"When you talk about comparing quarterbacks, it's hard to compare guys," said Jennings. "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."
Jennings' new stance represents a switch from the one he made public in January 2012, in which he took Rodgers over Favre.
For his part in the matter, Rodgers took the high road and said he wouldn't be worrying about any players not inside the Packers locker room, per Mike Vandermause of PackersNews.com:
Like I said last year when there were some comments kind of like this, I’ve got a great responsibility to the guys in this locker room and the fans and at this point, I don’t have a whole lot of time or energy to spend worrying about things that are said outside the building.
I know those are stories for you guys, but personally I’m focused on this team and obviously you hear about them but I’m not going to spend a lot of time or energy on them.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy also had a facetious response to his former receiver, per USA Today.
"You know, when you put on that purple, something happens to you," McCarthy said.
Jennings' first trip back to Lambeau Field to face his old teammates comes in Week 12. The Packers and Vikings also play in Minneapolis Week 8. Both teams are looking to return to the playoffs after successful 2012 campaigns.