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Greg Jennings' key to early success? 'Catch the ball'

Packers Hall of Fame inductee ranks 10th in franchise history in receptions, ninth in receiving yards

Former Packers WR Greg Jennings
Former Packers WR Greg Jennings

GREEN BAY – Greg Jennings knows a little something about what the Packers' rookie receivers are going through this season.

Back in 2006, as a second-round draft pick from Western Michigan, Jennings needed to develop a rapport, and quickly, with a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Brett Favre.

While Jennings gives the credit for his early success – more than 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns over his first two seasons, including the scores that allowed the Packers' iconic QB to tie and break the NFL's all-time TD pass record at the time – to Favre, he simply focused on being reliable, and that started with his sure hands.

"One of the No. 1 things … was catch the ball," Jennings said Thursday, just a few hours before his induction into the Packers Hall of Fame along with star 1980s pass rusher Tim Harris.

"I don't care if I ran the wrong route, I don't care what the defender did to disrupt me, at the end of the day I wanted him to know I was going to catch the ball. So that would be my advice."

Jennings caught the ball plenty when Aaron Rodgers took over as well, posting a three-season run from 2008-10 in which he averaged 75 receptions, 1,200 yards and eight TDs per year.

That stretch culminated in the Super Bowl XLV title to which he contributed a 100-yard game, two scores, and a clutch catch over the middle to convert a crucial third-and-10 on a laser-like throw from Rodgers in the fourth quarter.

Jennings went on to play seven seasons for the Packers in all (2006-12), making two Pro Bowls, and he currently ranks 10th in franchise annals in receptions (425) and ninth in receiving yards (6,537). His tenure in Green Bay didn't end on the best of terms, as a contract dispute eventually led to his departure to Minnesota, but he's excited to be back and "embrace it all" while honored as one of the franchise's greats.

The team's history isn't lost on him, and Jennings acknowledged he was reminded of it every time he ran out of the Lambeau Field tunnel on game day.

"When you're running out of that tunnel as a player, all you can think about is all the guys – the Tim Harrises (pointing to his induction companion), the Bart Starrs – all the guys that have done it and taken that field before you, and that's who you represent," Jennings said. "And you want to make them proud.

"Obviously you want to make yourself and your family proud, and your teammates proud, but when you have such a history that has gone on and established a culture and a standard, you better live up to that standard."

Jennings was to be introduced for induction by his brother Cortney, whom he called his "battle partner," pushing him in his youth to always strive for more. Since his playing career ended following the 2015 season with Miami, Jennings has worked as a FOX Sports analyst and online fitness coach as well as in the metal fabrication and elevator business.

He admitted to never giving much thought to being chosen for the Packers Hall of Fame until getting the call last winter about his selection, but now that the moment has arrived he's fully enjoying the perspective it has provided.

"This is special," he said. "This has all been very overwhelming, just being here, what this means.

"I have no words. This is amazing, this is awesome, to be idolized as a Green Bay Packer for life. It's super cool."

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