Greg Jennings: Not Your Typical Wide Reciever
When the Green Bay Packers selected Greg Jennings in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft 3 years ago many Packers faithful were not that excited about the pick. Who was this guy out of Western Michigan? Why would they pass up Miami wide receiver/corner back Devin Hester for Greg Jennings? Hester had a bigger name, was faster, a return specialist and produced for a big time school. Why would they pass up on him for Greg Jennings from Western Michigan?
Well just look at the numbers. In 4 years with the Broncos, Jennings had 238 receptions for 3,539 yards and 39 touchdowns. In 2003 he was second team All MAC after he caught 56 balls for 1,050 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also finished the 2003 season with 1,734 all-purpose yards. In 2004 “the preachers kid from Kalamazoo” posted 74 catches for 1,092 yards and 11 touchdowns while posting 1,415 all-purpose yards all while being named to the All-MAC team. In 2005 Jennings took his game to another level after catching 98 balls, which meant he led the nation with 8.91 catches per game. Jennings also had 1,259 yards with 14 touchdowns and shattered the school record with 5,093 all-purpose yards in a season and another All MAC selection. Jennings became only the 11th player to gain over 1,000 yards three times in college career.
Jennings came into Packers rookie mini camp as a player that they expected to be their third wide receiver behind Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson. Jennings had a different plan. He picked up the offense faster then any rookie wide receiver in recent memory and by the start of the season was named the starter behind Driver. Jennings injured his ankle mid way through the season which slowed him down a bit, but he still was named to the NFL All Rookie team at the end of the season. In his rookie season Jennings caught 45 balls for 632 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Jennings second year in the NFL started late after he missed the first two games due to injury. Jennings came back in week 3 and never looked back. Against the San Diego Chargers and trailing in the forth quarter, Jennings caught a slant pass from Brett Favre and took it 57 yards for the game winning touchdown. The next week against the Minnesota Vikings Jennings caught Favre’s record setting 421st career touchdown pass in another Packers win. That season Jennings collected 53 balls for 920 yards and 12 touchdowns.
In 2008 Greg Jennings picked up where he left off. Jennings played at a Pro Bowl caliber level catching 80 balls for 1,292 yards and 9 touchdowns in a season the Packers underachieved. In 2008, Jennings became the Packers”number 1″ wide receiver and favorite target of new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Jennings also became a leader in the locker room, as well as on and off the field. Jennings also has a foundation that according to it’s vision statement ” is a non-profit Christian based organization dedicated to assisting children and families obtain their personal, professional and financial goals.” here is the link: http://www.gj85foundation.com/
Greg Jennings is a remarkable person. In a sports age where money talks and the wide receiver position is filled with selfish, me first team second prima donna’s complaining about how many passes is thrown to them, Jennings takes a different approach. He is a team first guy. A good example of that is in a game against the San Francisco 49ers, Jennings signaled Brett Favre that Ruvell Martin was wide open down the far sideline, leading to a touchdown pass. When Jennings had been asked about his contract which was up following the 2009 season, he said “I know the Packers are going to do the right thing.” He also said that he wouldn’t be a distraction nor would he hold out, and on June 23rd 2009 he was rewarded for his hard work and attitude.
Today, Jennings signed a new 3 year contract reportedly worthbetween $27 to $30 million dollars with $16 million in guarantees making him one of the highest paid wide receiver’s in the NFL. The deal also allows Jennings the opportunity for another big pay day when he turns 29 years old. Jennings, when asked about new expectations after signing a big contract, told the Green Bay Press Gazette today “My expectations are higher than anybody else’s, I guarantee you that. So, I’m not — money is not going to change the player that I am. It probably will change the outlook of fans … thinking that I should produce more, but I should produce more anyway. I’m going to come out here and be the same guy, and if not the same, I want to be better. And that’s me. I like to improve on anything there is that I do from year to year.”
Not bad for a preachers kid from Kalamazoo that was turned away from Michigan for being to small and a guy Packers fans didn’t know anything about. Greg Jennings is the epitemy of a role model and a “Packers person”. He breaks the mold of the stereotypical athlete that puts his own needs before everyone else. There must be something in the water in Kalamazoo because it also is the home town of Drek Jeter and if Jennings can be the football version of Jeter the Packers have found themselves a keeper. That’s something most Packers fans now know and the NFL fans are quickly finding out.