GREEN BAY, Wis.
One by one, Greg Jennings took down the photos of his wife and children that lined his locker, careful not to rip them as he removed the tape. Below him, two plastic bins were filled with shampoo, lotion, toothpaste and deodorant.
Still numb from the rout in San Francisco that ended their trying season, the Green Bay Packers headed into an offseason sure to bring change — some of it big. Jennings and Donald Driver, key parts of the team that won the Super Bowl two years ago, are all but gone, and Charles Woodson may have played his last game for Green Bay.
“At the end of the day, you know the Packers are going to do what’s best for the Packers. And that’s not going to change whether you’re No. 4, No. 80, No. 85, No. 77. That’s going to be the case,” Jennings said Sunday, referring to Brett Favre, Driver and Cullen Jenkins, as well as himself. “And as the other half of the businessman sitting down at that table, I have to do what’s best for myself and my family.”
Jennings finished with career lows in receptions (36), yards per catch (10.2) and total yards (366) after missing half of season with a torn muscle in his groin. He remains Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target, however, and he reminded everyone why with one big catch after another when he returned from the injury. He led Green Bay with six catches and a score in Saturday night’s 45-31 loss to San Francisco in an NFC divisional game.
But the Packers have perhaps the deepest receiving corps in the NFL, and breakout seasons by James Jones and Randall Cobb have made Jennings, an unrestricted free agent, expendable.
“Everybody in this locker room is trying to win Super Bowls, but everybody in this locker room is trying to take care of their family as well,” Jones said. “Football is our job and football is how we do it, and we understand that we’ve got four or five No. 1 receivers that are going to want money at some time. So we know it’s going to be hard for this organization to pay everybody what they want, which [stinks] ... because I wish we could stay together for the rest of our career and go on a run and win some Super Bowls.”
Broncos still stunned
The intended target for Peyton Manning’s last pass of the season didn’t sleep much after the game that brought Denver’s season to an unexpected halt.
“I kept playing it back in my head,” Brandon Stokley said Sunday, as he discussed the loss in a rapidly clearing locker room. “It’s like a bad dream that keeps playing over and over.”
But yes, that really happened.
The 38-35 loss to the Baltimore Ravens goes down as one of the most crushing defeats in Broncos history, as much for when it came — two games short of the Super Bowl — as the surreal way it came about.
Though Manning’s interception in overtime and Rahim Moore’s broken coverage stand out as lowlights from the loss, this was a game filled with mistakes, bad decisions by both coach and quarterback and more missed opportunities than the Broncos compiled in 11 games before that, all wins.
It brought a sudden close to a season that, at times, seemed almost destined to end at the Super Bowl in New Orleans. As the players packed their belongings in plastic trash bags, signed a few jerseys for each other and said goodbye, both young and old had grasped two simple facts of life in the NFL: Teams change from year to year; and one good season does not guarantee another.
“You’ll never have the same nucleus, the same group of guys that we have,” linebacker Von Miller said. “I wasn’t ready to let it go yet. Especially the way it ended.”
Eagles interview Billick
The Philadelphia Eagles have interviewed former Ravens coach and current Fox analyst Brian Billick for their coaching vacancy, a person familiar with the meeting told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Billick, who led Baltimore to a Super Bowl title in the 2000 season, met with the Eagles last Monday, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss it.
The Eagles are known to have interviewed eight other candidates, including three high-profile college coaches who decided to stay at their schools.