Greg Jennings admits he regrets what he said this summer, not what he did last spring.
Translating that, using the Athlete-to-English dictionary, we can surmise that he regrets the reaction to what he said this summer, and that he’s devastated by what he did last spring.
Sunday, Jennings will face his former team, the Green Bay Packers, for the first time since he left them to sign with the Vikings in March.
Asked in the Vikings locker room Wednesday about his summertime jabs at Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Jennings offered an answer that would have been a reasonable response if he had been asked why he would leave Rodgers to play with Christian Ponder.
“At this point, it’s behind me,’’ he said. “There’s things that take place in life that you wish didn’t happen. But you grow from it. I’ll use ‘crisis,’ for instance. If a crisis occurred in your life — and you may have brought it on yourself — but if you focus on the crisis itself and not how to overcome the crisis, you’re going to stay within the crisis. And that’s kind of how I approach this situation.
“[Green Bay] is a phenomenal organization. I had to make my departure. There were some things said that, man, if I could say it over again, I would have to reword it so that it could be conveyed a little differently. But they were said. I can’t focus on that. I have to focus on the now, on who I am and where I am now.’’
Jennings has angered Packers fans frequently in the past eight months. First, he signed with the Packers’ rival. Second, he revealed in a radio interview with Jim Rome that former Packer-turned-Viking Brett Favre counseled him on the decision. Third, he told the Star Tribune in July that he had felt “brainwashed’ by playing with the Packers, and questioned the leadership skills of Rodgers.
What has transpired since then couldn’t have worked out better for the Packers and worse for Jennings if the ghost of Vince Lombardi was writing the script.
When Ponder returns to the lineup Sunday, Jennings will be dealing with a fourth quarterback change in seven games. He played with two starting quarterbacks and one sub in Green Bay in seven years.
While the Vikings have fallen apart as a team and an offense, the Packers have thrived despite the loss of Jennings, and injuries to receivers Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb and tight end Jermichael Finley.
The Vikings added an accomplished wide receiver and got worse. The Packers lost an accomplished wide receiver and seem not to have noticed. They are 4-2 and have developed a more balanced offense by emphasizing rookie running back Eddie Lacy.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he listed Jennings’ comments as one of his weekly “media topics’’ he wanted his players to be aware of, and Rodgers has deflected most questions about his relationship with Jennings.
“I don’t think that’s very important in this setting, this conversation,’’ he said Wednesday on a conference call with Minnesota reporters.
Would he seek out Jennings at the Metrodome? “I’m just going to go through my preparation like I always do, and if I see him after the game, I see him,’’ Rodgers said.
It will forever be difficult to mention the Vikings-Packers rivalry without invoking Brett Favre, and this week he again rears his stubbly chin.
When the Packers decided to replace Favre with Rodgers, Favre became determined to not only continue his career, but to find a way to make the Packers pay for that decision. And, for one year, he made them pay, beating them twice in 2009.
Favre was an unwilling mentor for Rodgers. He also threw his 500th career touchdown pass to Jennings at the Metrodome, and, according to one of Jennings’ interviews, advised him to sign with Minnesota.
Rodgers and Jennings have this in common: Both proved the Packers were right.
They were right when they determined that Rodgers should be their franchise quarterback. They were right when they allowed Jennings to leave.
Wednesday, Jennings sounded as if he wanted to kiss and make up.
“I have a lot of love for everyone in that locker room,’’ Jennings said of the Packers. “I have no hatred for anyone in that locker room. I know this is a rivalry, but I have no hate for anyone over there. That organization was great to me, the fans were great to me, and the guys continue to be great to me. I still have a relationship with those guys. And I will forever have a relationship with those guys.
“There were things said that if I could take back, I would. I would. I absolutely would. But I can’t. So I have to live life with the cards that I dealt myself, and the cards that are sometimes dealt not of your own choice.’’
While it won’t happen, what might be best for all parties would be a trade of Jennings to the Packers. He could leave on the Green Bay charter Sunday night. The Packers would add a veteran receiver. The Vikings would get a draft pick with which to rebuild their defense. Jennings would get to play with a great quarterback and chase another Super Bowl ring.
It won’t happen, though. The Packers don’t need him. If the best form of revenge is living well, the best form of revenge in football is playing well.
Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. firstname.lastname@example.org