The Green Bay Packers (5-5) host the Minnesota Vikings (2-8) at Lambeau Field on Sunday and Packers’ fans seeing one of their former stars donning the purple, white and yellow won’t help ease any kind of tension that has begun to boil lately in Green Bay.
Former Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings is questionable to play at Lambeau Field for the first time in his NFL career as a member of a different organization because of an achilles injury, but if he is activated for Sunday, the timing couldn’t be any worse for his homecoming.
The Packers have lost three consecutive games since franchise quarterback (and Jennings ‘nemesis’) Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone against the Chicago Bears, as what seemed like another promising season in Green Bay has crumbled into a nightmare 2013 campaign.
Jennings, who only caught 36 passes for 366 yards and scored four touchdowns in eight games with the Packers last season, signed a five-year contract with the division-rival Vikings in the offseason in hopes of helping balance a run-heavy offensive attack while serving as quarterback Christian Ponder’s top receiving target.
Unfortunately for Jennings and the Vikings, Minnesota is one loss away from clinching their third losing season in the last four years and Jennings hasn’t played like a No. 1 wideout. Through ten games this season, Jennings has 34 catches for 410 yards and he has scored two touchdowns.
In the first meeting between the Packers and Vikings earlier this season, Green Bay dominated Minnesota, 44-31, and Jennings caught only one pass for nine yards against his former team.
Because of Rodgers’ injury though, the Vikings have a legitimate opportunity to win their first game at Lambeau Field since 2009. Without any question, Packer fans would love to see Jennings have another surprisingly quiet performance against Green Bay.
His inaugural performance against the Packers was surprising because Jennings, one of the most beloved and popular players in Green Bay from 2006-2012, was anything but quiet over the summer.
In the offseason, Jennings publicly criticized and questioned Rodgers’ leadership and said he felt players in Green Bay are “brainwashed” to believe that there is no better place to be in the NFL. Vikings’ head coach Leslie Frazier publicly said that Jennings should “focus on what we (Vikings) are doing,” indirectly telling his veteran receiver to shut his mouth.
What could’ve possibly made Jennings publicly lash out against his former team was that he was becoming a third option in the passing game behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, or the rumor that Rodgers tried to convince the front office after the 2012 season to keep Charles Woodson while staying mum about Jennings.
Jennings was known around the NFL as one of the classiest and most dignified individuals, but one offseason completely changed that perception. Jennings made his split with the Packers nastier than it ever had to be, which was hard for Packer fans to digest.
Whether he is ruled out or activated this weekend, Jennings will have a homecoming reception similar to Brett Favre. Like Favre, Jennings was a Super Bowl hero for the Packers, but both players spoiled their opportunities for warm receptions in Green Bay by making the organization look awful in the public eye.
Earlier this year, Jennings admitted he may have gone “overboard” with his offseason comments, but the fact is that Jennings’ apology was too late after he made so much unwanted noise leading up to this game. Packer fans will be anything but polite in Jennings’ return to Lambeau. Better grab some ear plugs before Sunday, Greg.