MINNEAPOLIS -- Greg Jennings has an interesting metaphor to describe his relationship with his former team, one that might explain both why he kept getting singed by a fire that he had a hand in stoking and why he seems at peace with the whole situation now.
"I still have Packer flowing through me, because that's what I was born in," Jennings said in a wide-ranging interview earlier this month. "It's like, I can't disown my mom -- I can grow up and get away from my mom, but I'm still her son, you know? That's just the way it is. I'm glad to be a year removed from that, and to move forward, to appreciate that past, but yet to embrace the future."
Jennings seemed intent on asserting his independence from the Green Bay Packers at this time last year, after he'd signed a five-year, $45 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings and became the latest former Packer to jump across the border. The move gained additional attention from a spat between Jennings and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers that seemed to fester throughout the spring and summer; Rodgers replied, "Who?" when first asked about Jennings' departure, Jennings called Rodgers "12" and "the guy they have now" in subsequent interviews, later saying Rodgers' status had made it difficult for him to be accountable to his teammates.
Things finally cooled down before the first Packers-Vikings meeting last October, when Jennings said he was sorry if he'd offended Rodgers and did most of the talking during a lengthy embrace following the Packers' 44-31 win Oct. 27.
Now that Jennings is a year removed from the situation -- replaced by Julius Peppers and Jared Allen as the subject of rival-hopping intrigue in the NFC North -- he seems more comfortable with his standing in both Minnesota and Green Bay. He praised Rodgers several times during our interview, thanking the Packers for developing him as a young receiver, while adding he loves his life in the Twin Cities and plans to stay in Minnesota after he's done playing.
He's also glad not to be in the middle of an NFC North soap opera.
"The questions got so redundant," Jennings said. "I know I can't get away from it. I was born into that. I was born into the Packers organization. I will always be indebted to those guys over there, personally and from a business standpoint. My path has gone somewhere else. I'm still grateful -- would never discount what they've done for me in my career, my family and just for me as a man, growing up in this league, because I learned a lot. I learned a lot from Coach [Mike] McCarthy, coming into the league as a rookie head coach [in 2006, the same year the Packers drafted Jennings], just learning from him and the guys. I'll cherish all those moments. Obviously, I won a Super Bowl with those guys. I'm etched on all the rings and ingrained in that area. No one can ever take that away from me; I don't care how anybody feels about it."