Glenn Returns To New England


For Packers wide receiver Terry Glenn, his career with the New England Patriots was both the best and worst of times. What started in 1996 with an NFL rookie record 90 receptions and a Super Bowl appearance deteriorated into a messy web of injuries, failed and missed drug tests, allegations and lies, all in six short seasons.

The story of Glenn's plight has been told time and time again and yet the picture is still unclear. It's a 'he said, they said' drama between Glenn and the Patriots in which few, if any, know the whole truth. The opinions are so many they should come with a book depository and a grassy knoll.

But none of that matters now, or at least it shouldn't. Glenn has moved on, the Patriots too. Only this weekend Glenn makes his return to New England, where he will play in front of the Foxboro fans for the first time since they cheered his departure.

"They'll probably boo me and have their little comments as we come out of the tunnel," Glenn said of what will be a sellout crowd at Gillette Stadium. "That's what I'm expecting."

He's probably right, but he could be wrong. Since Glenn came to Green Bay in March via a multi-clause trade, the New England faithful have reacted by walking a disturbing tightrope between offering voodoo curses and well-wishes.

They applaud a Glenn injury with an 'I told you so,' only to turn around and cheer his every catch, because the Packers' trade with the Patriots is production-based and for every Glenn reception that earns rewards for the Packers this season, the Pats get a better 2003 draft choice in return (the Patriots already received a fourth-round pick from the Packers in the 2002 draft).

How Glenn will be received by his former team is another matter altogether. To hear the New England media describe it, Glenn doesn't have a friend left in New England. But that's not the way Patriots corner back Ty Law made it sound.

"We all know what type of player Terry is," Law said, "but he's a friend before anything to me. I still wish I had him on my team because I know what kind of problems he can cause for a defense."

Asked if there was any faction of the Patriots' locker room that thought Glenn had done them wrong, Law said, "Not at all. We're all soldiers of the same army as far as the players. It's one general, and that's Coach (Bill) Belichick, and we've got a five-star general in (team owner) Mr. (Robert) Kraft.

"Hell, we're all expendable, we could be fired at any time. We have no business toward Terry because that was an executive decision that we had nothing to do with.

"Terry was our friend, he was our teammate, so we were behind him more than anything."

But like Glenn's problems, that was then and this is now. Things have changed.

Even though migraine headaches limited Glenn's action in Week Four against the Carolina Panthers to the first half alone, he has already seen more time on the football field this season than he did all of last year, when injuries and suspensions left him eligible for only four games.

Monday night against the Chicago Bears, Glenn looked like the dynamic receiver the Packers hoped they had traded for, making eight catches for 154 yards while flashing his speed, elusiveness and Velcro-like grip. All that coming less than a week after Glenn had traveled to New York on his day off to consult a neurologist about his reoccurring headaches.

If Glenn wanted to be riding a wave of momentum back into Foxboro, he picked no better way to do it.

"It meant a lot," Glenn said of his performance. "Coming here from the situation I was in last year and Coach (Mike) Sherman really sticking his neck out to get me, letting go of what happened in the past, it really helped out a lot.

"Especially on Monday Night Football, where everyone got a chance to see what we were able to do. Definitely as a team we were able to take a step forward, as an offense especially, so it really felt good."

If Glenn wants to continue to separate himself from his tumultuous final seasons in New England, he'll have to keep taking forward steps. He accomplishes much of that just by playing the game, creating new on-the-field memories that allow the media and fans to focus on something other than his past off-the-field errors.

He clears another hurdle this weekend when he returns to the place it all happened -- both the good and the bad -- to face the team and organization that, in the end, he felt wronged by and that felt wronged by him.

With all eyes on his every move Sunday, Glenn will be challenged to avoid pushing the envelope, to let the game come to him. That's something Brett Favre said he failed to do when former Packers coach Mike Holmgren made his return to Green Bay with the Seattle Seahawks in 1999, a game the Packers lost 27-7.

"I know he wants to have a big game and that's great, but don't get out of your game," Favre said. "Terry is Terry, and he's good. If he approaches this game like he did the other night, like he should do every week, he'll be fine.

"That doesn't mean he'll have 150 yards, he may have one catch just because that's the way our offense works, and I think he knows that now. But don't let (the Patriots), or going back, alter what you do."

That's Glenn's plan exactly.

"I'm just treating it like another football game," he said. "I would love to catch a hundred balls for a million yards, but I think the key thing I have to worry about is going out there and playing a good, sound, fundamental football game and concentrating on the team goal as far as the victory. I would love to just go there and win, no matter what I do."

Just another football game, another chance to win -- after this weekend, maybe they can all be that way for Terry Glenn.

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