So it appears Minnesota Vikings receiver Greg Jennings has closed the cycle on the offseason comments he made about the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers in particular. Speaking with reporters Thursday, Jennings said he doesn't "really recall saying anything negative about Aaron or anyone over there" but added with some finality: "Everything I say, I'm joking, I'm messing, I'm pulling Aaron's arm."
Jennings absolutely spoke in a negative tone about Rodgers this spring, specifically on the credit he receives and accepts, and I can only assume he was "messing" in suggesting otherwise Thursday. But let's stop trying to figure out what Jennings meant, what he was joking about and how he truly feels about a team the Vikings will play twice this season.
Instead, let's recognize an indisputable fact: Jennings' tenure in Minnesota has gotten off to a completely unexpected start. His first impression -- as a classic receiver diva, one who seemed embittered by credit directed elsewhere -- is a total departure from the reputation he earned in Green Bay.
I won't pretend to have known Jennings well during his time with the Packers. But he impressed me in 2008 with his classy and delicate handling of the transition to Rodgers from Brett Favre, and thereafter he rarely strayed from a team-first and decidedly non-controversial persona. I don't know. Maybe he did a better job of keeping selfish sentiments out of public view, but the Jennings we've seen -- and most importantly heard -- is nothing like the one we seemed to know in Green Bay.
I doubt any of Jennings' new teammates care what he says about the Packers, but it's quite notable that his head coach did. I could count on one hand the times I've heard Leslie Frazier publicly rebuke a player, dating back to his arrival as the Vikings' defensive coordinator in 2007, and Jennings earned a reprimand after just two days of training camp. It is difficult to get in Frazier's doghouse and easy to get out, but generally speaking, you don't want to go there before your first practice in full pads.
Everything here is repairable and nothing has to have a permanent impact. Jennings can still be everything the Vikings want from him and more. But first impressions are important, and no one could have predicted Jennings would stumble on his first steps with the Vikings.