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No more hating on Packers’ Jennings/The Red Line

February 7, 2011
By Brandon Veale - bveale@mininggazette.com

At Central Michigan University, they taught us early to hate Western Michigan.

I learned all by myself to hate Greg Jennings.

Back in the day, when he was a Bronco and I was watching a bad Central Michigan team, every rivalry game against Western included a little Greg Jennings torture.

It looked like this: short slant pass, one broken tackle, two broken tackles, run forever. Repeat.

Our student section could yell at him all we wanted (and we did), but we couldn't keep him from running.

Finally, he exhausted his eligibility and I thought I could be done with him. Until the Packers drafted him in the second round in 2005.

In the first month of his career (against the Lions), he caught a short pass from Brett Favre, broke one tackle, broke a second tackle and ran forever (75 yards, to be exact) for his first career touchdown. I cringed a little bit, because I'd seen this before.

Even as he established himself as an elite pro with clutch catch after clutch catch, I just couldn't get behind him.

He'd traded brown and gold for green and gold and I had left the student section behind, but there was still suspicion there.

It's irrational, but most rivalries are. By all accounts, Jennings is an elite player and a classy guy, the son of a preacher dad and a missionary mom who went to his hometown school.

But that school was in Kalamazoo. And that mattered to me, until last night.

Jennings would've gotten my MVP vote. Two touchdowns, a huge catch across the middle that stopped the Steelers' momentum and might have saved a championship, what more can you ask for?

On a night in which most of the Packers' receiving corps had hard hands, Jennings was the guy that Aaron Rodgers went to when Green Bay needed to run to daylight.

Last year, I visited an old college buddy named Joe. He's a teacher in Battle Creek and he was working toward his master's degree at ... Western Michigan. Of course, he needed to stay close to home and Western's a perfectly fine college, but it still felt a little odd to see someone who walked to home football games with you wearing a brown-and-gold ballcap.

Turns out Joe just figured it out earlier than me. Sometimes, Western's worth being proud of too.

On a night full of CMU heroes past and present (Cullen Jenkins and Frank Zombo of Green Bay, Antonio Brown of Pittsburgh) and Mid-American Conference rivals aplenty (Ben Roethlisberger of Miami, James Starks of Buffalo, T.J. Lang of Eastern Michigan), it was a Western Michigan Bronco that was the man of the hour.

I guess it took green and gold to show me brown and gold and maroon and gold had something in common.

Brandon Veale can be reached at bveale@mininggazette.com.

 
 

 

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