GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy blames Greg Jennings' new wardrobe for the verbal jabs the receiver has been taking at Aaron Rodgers.
"You know, when you put on that purple, something happens to you," McCarthy said Thursday, drawing laughs.
Jennings became the latest big-name Packer to sign with Green Bay's archrival this offseason, going to the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent. Since then, the Packers' former No. 1 receiver has taken a series of thinly veiled shots at Rodgers. He's refused to call the quarterback by name, referring to him instead as "12" or "the guy they have now," and he dismissed the general environment around Green Bay's facilities as "cookie cutter."
But his strongest criticisms came in a story in Thursday's Star Tribune in which he questioned Rodgers' leadership and implied the quarterback had become bigger than the team.
"For me, I'm such a team person, I'm going to defer to my teammates," Jennings told the Star Tribune. "I'm going to defer to the team, to the team, to the team. And I think when you reach a point where you're not deferring any longer, it's no longer really about the team.
"Don't get me wrong, '12' is a great person," Jennings added. "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."
Rodgers hasn't addressed the comments by Jennings — his first availability at training camp is Friday — but McCarthy didn't seem too concerned with them. Rodgers takes his role with the team very seriously, McCarthy said, and he's "proud" of how his quarterback's leadership has grown.
"He obviously puts a lot of time and energy into it and it's really reflected in the little things that no one really sees," McCarthy said. "To me, that's really the definition of a true leader, the ability to stack the individual moments with individuals throughout not only the locker room but throughout the building — particularly in the football operations department. I just think it's really an outstanding role of going about it.
"Now, everybody grows and hits some bumps and twists and turns along the way," McCarthy added. "But (Rodgers) is very committed, very in tune with what's in the best interests of the football team. I'm very proud of him, just the way that he has taken that responsibility, and feel that it will be greater than ever going into this season."