Greg Jennings Has Christian Ponder’s Back in a Way Percy Harvin Never Did
By Dan Zinski
May 29, 2013; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) talks with wide receiver Greg Jennings (15) at the Minnesota Vikings OTA at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
We can debate until the end of time whether trading away Percy Harvin was a good idea. There are always multiple ways of looking at that sort of thing. You can take it from a pure on-field angle. Or you can look at it in terms of contract value. Or take all the off-field stuff into consideration. I think there’s another factor that must be placed at the center of any Harvin argument: his relationship with Christian Ponder.
How ugly did it get between Harvin and Ponder? That’s something we’ll never know. But we don’t need all the exact details to formulate a picture. It’s pretty obvious that Harvin was not a huge Ponder fan.
The way Harvin erupted in Seattle? That sort of thing doesn’t happen if there is mutual respect between QB and receiver. If receiver respects QB, receiver takes QB aside and discusses matters. Maybe the discussion gets heated. But at least it is an actual discussion between two people with an equal stake in the overall endeavor.
But here’s the whole problem with Harvin. I don’t think Harvin really feels that he has a stake in any endeavor unless that endeavor is the betterment of Percy Harvin. This guy is just not a team player. He cares about getting his. Christian Ponder’s spotty quarterback play made it hard for Percy to get his, therefore Percy did not like Ponder.
Tell me, when did Harvin ever step up for Ponder? When the fans were ragging on Christian, did we ever hear Harvin volunteering words of support? Did we ever see shots of Harvin on the sidelines going over things with Ponder? Did these guys really work together at all? Harvin didn’t even show up for practice half the time. When did they have a chance to get on the same page?
Look, I’m not saying all teammates have to love each other. There is sort of a unique thing that goes on between quarterbacks and receivers but even then, I don’t think there needs to be love. But there does need to be respect. And a sense of a common goal. To my mind, neither of those things were present in the dynamic between Ponder and Harvin.
Not that Christian Ponder necessarily needs his hand held. He’s a grown up and has to take care of his business. But at the same time, we have to remember that he’s relatively young and is still learning. It would have been good for Ponder had Harvin shown a little interest in helping that process along. Rather than just being all about Percy and Percy’s stats and Percy’s money.
Why is this all coming up again? Why bother rehashing all this? It all came back into my mind over the last few days. It came back to me thanks to Greg Jennings who has been on a veritable media tour in the days leading up to camp.
I hope you’ve been paying attention to Jennings. Not just for the hilarious Packer-bashing but because, to my mind, Jennings has been putting on a brilliant demonstration of how to be a real teammate. And I think his performance just makes Percy Harvin’s selfish act look all the worse by comparison.
Never in a million years would Harvin have put himself out there the way Jennings has. Never would he have gone before the media and spoken so glowingly of Ponder. Packer fans who’ve been bashing Jennings? What you guys don’t get is that it’s not about you. It’s not about bashing you or Aaron Rodgers. It’s about building up Christian Ponder.
Jennings knows what the deal is. Like it or not, Ponder is his quarterback. Who knows what he really thinks of Ponder as a player. Maybe deep down he thinks Ponder sucks. It doesn’t matter. Jennings signed his contract. He’s here and Ponder is here. And Jennings is going to do his best to make it work with Ponder.
Trust me, we will never see Greg Jennings blowing up at Leslie Frazier on the sideline over an incompletion. I guarantee we will see plenty of shots of Jennings and Ponder going over things. These guys will do the work in practice. Jennings won’t be coming down with mysterious ailments.
This doesn’t mean that these guys will wind up the greatest buddies in the world. But like I said, that doesn’t matter. Respect is what matters. And so far Jennings has shown nothing but respect. Not just for Ponder but the whole concept of team.
Jennings gets it. That was evident from the first second he joined the Vikings. Percy Harvin? He never got it. And never will get it. That may not matter with a QB like Russell Wilson who has so much natural confidence and instinctive leadership ability. But it mattered with Ponder, who is not a natural leader and obviously struggles with confidence.
In the end, Jennings will be much better for Ponder than Harvin was. And if guys like Cordarrelle Patterson can step up for Ponder on the field? Then he may be all right. It’s all up to him. He is still the quarterback and he still has to get it done. But at least he now has some teammates who seem to understand what being a teammate really means. That can only make things easier.
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