Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Wiederer: Greg Jennings' 'brainwashing' comment not worth all the fuss

Posted by: Updated: August 8, 2013 - 10:16 AM

Thank you Greg Jennings. Thanks for another lesson in the anatomy of a contrived sports controversy.

The formula: simple question + candid answer + sensationalized translation = wildly overblown headlines that create clicks all across the internet while causing irrational fans and hyperventilating bloggers to lose their minds.

Just to catch you up to speed with the latest Jennings silliness ... 

On Wednesday morning, Jennings appeared on KFAN for a radio interview with Paul Allen and Ben Leber. Leber asked whether Jennings sensed championship qualities in this Vikings team.

Jennings responded honestly but used a hot-button word: brainwashed.

As we documented in today's Star Tribune:

"One of the things that obviously drew me to coming over here was the makeup of the team," Jennings said. "When I came over here, I was kind of brainwashed. There’s no kind of to it. Being over in Green Bay, you’re brainwashed to think that anyone in the division is just tiers below. So coming over here, I meet the people within the organization and I’m like ‘Wow, these are really great people.’"

Jennings had never considered the grass could be greener.

“It sounds crazy,” he said. “But it’s like everything that you know in Green Bay is like the best, the best, the best, the best, the best. And it’s like total brainwashing. And I think you don’t open your eyes to see what other teams have to offer unless you’re in that position.”

To be clear, Jennings was expressing surprise in how quickly he connected with the Vikings’ coaching staff and front office. But referencing the rival Packers? Predictably, his thoughts were quickly twisted by many into something more sensational than what he was saying.

By Wednesday night, mostly because of Jennings' sharp criticism of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers earlier this summer, the wildly sensationalized headlines were everywhere. They included this doozy on NFL.com --

Greg Jennings: Green Bay Packers brainwash players

For real? That was considered a fair takeaway from the Jennings interview?

Cue the immediate flashbacks to the unfair shake linebacker Chad Greenway got last December when he suggested Vikings fans might be best suited to get "super duper drunk" for the team's Week 14 game against Chicago.

So, yes, I delivered a mini-Twitter rant on this rapidly accelerating push to cast Jennings as an overly self-absorbed, foolish, diva who is out to bash Green Bay at every opportunity.

And then, the fine folks at KTWIN allowed me an opportunity to continue the discussion Thursday morning with plenty of disdain for the modern media machine that too often prioritizes splashy headlines over intelligent discussion. So have at it. Listen in.

 

Oh, and if you haven't listened to the Jennings KFAN interview in its entirety, we suggest you do so right here. (Novel concept we know. And the Jennings interview starts in the 25th minute.) 

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