Following the flight of Greg Jennings to the land of purple, LB Desmond Bishop joined the Vikings last week. Bishop joins a plethora of former Packers who also made migrating move to Minnesota. The long list of former Packers includes legendary Brett Favre, standout players such as Ryan Longwell and Darren Sharper, and players like Robert Ferguson, Jeff Brady, and Javon Walker who made the move to Minnesota with little fanfare. Even former Packers quarterback coach and Wisconsin Badgers great Darrell Bevell left Green Bay to serve as their offensive coordinator from 2005-2010.
So the obvious conundrum: why do so many ex Packers sign with the Vikings? Perhaps there is some commonality as to why former Packers feel inclined to shed the green and gold for Minnesota purple. Looking at the most controversial crossover, Brett Favre, we learned all too well that he felt unwanted by Green Bay during his retirement process and after he unretired had the itch to stick it to the Pack. When players jump to rival teams, they often spew political correctness so as not to stir up any animosity. You’ll hear buzz phrases like “It’s was a business decision,” or “There aren’t any hard feelings,” much like the way Desmond Bishop played it in his statements upon signing with Minnesota. Nevertheless, one wonders if the sentiments Favre shared is actually the driving force as to why these former Packers chose to play for the Vikings.
During his nine year stay in Green Bay, popular kicker, Ryan Longwell is a prime example of this. Throughout his last season in 2005, Longwell felt criticism for his inconsistent performance in which he blamed anything from the weather to his holder. After his worst statistical season had finished, the Packers showed little interest in resigning the kicker. Longwell lamented that “there really wasn’t going to be an effort to re-sign,” and quickly jumped ship, leaving the bewildered Packers searching for a replacement. Naturally, he was out to prove that he was still a top kicker in the league, especially with the added luxury of kicking indoors. What better way to showcase his talents to the world than to kick for Minnesota.
Another star Packer during the same era, Darren Sharper, faced a similar scenario. He was seen as a player in decline when he became a free agent in 2004. The debate raged in Green Bay as to whether to pay him or watch him walk. The Packers chose the latter with the idea that Sharper was still good but was declining rapidly and thus would not justify a huge contract. As soon as he was a free agent, Minnesota pounced, eager to pick up another Packer great. During his stay in Minnesota, he seemed to relish playing Green Bay, making sure the Packers and knew that he had plenty left in the tank.
Greg Jennings seems to be in the same boat with Sharper and Longwell. He enjoyed his time in Green Bay but was apparently seen by the organization as a good player but not one that justifies a mega contract.
Perhaps these former players do not feel the exact same sentiments that Favre felt, but to deny that these players loved or would love nothing more than to beat the Pack seems unnatural. And the Vikings seem more than happy to sift through the Packers discard pile. They have found success there with Favre, Longwell, Sharper, and Jeff Brady, as well as disappointments like Robert Ferguson. Nevertheless, Bishop and Jennings seem hungry to prove to the Packers and the league that they can still play at a high level. The Vikings are eager to give these players a chance, while simultaneously plug the holes on their roster. As long as the Vikings are able to find hungry players that can help them against their rival to the east, expect the trend to continue and for the rivalry to remain one of the league’s best.