Greg vs. Brandon: Who's the best Jennings?
Two of Wisconsin's biggest sports stars battle it out for last-name supremacy
Until recently, the undisputed “best Jennings ever” was Mr. Waylon Jennings—country music legend, Highwayman, and official chronicler of Hazard County’s weekly shenanigans. But in Wisconsin two high-powered challengers have emerged—Green Bay Packers’ wide receiver Greg Jennings, and Milwaukee Bucks hotshot rookie Brandon Jennings. In spite of their identical last names, these dueling Jenningses couldn’t be more different. One is a consummate professional and easygoing nice guy, the other is an upstart kid who’s already pissed off some of the league’s old guard. Who should be the No. 1 Jennings in the hearts of local sports fans? The A.V. Club breaks it down.
1. Path to the pros
Greg: A second-round pick in 2006, Greg Jennings was a high school wide out from Kalamazoo who never caught the eye of clearly overpaid major college recruiters. Instead Jennings ended up on the Division 1-A Western Michigan Broncos, where he went from a redshirt freshman to leading the nation during his senior year with an average of 8.91 receptions per game.
Brandon: The Compton native may someday be considered a trailblazer, circumventing David Stern’s anti-prep-to-pro policy requiring one year of college before declaring eligibility for the NBA draft. Instead of going to college Brandon played for one season with Lottomatica Rome after graduating from Oak Hill Academy in Virginina, where he won the Naismith Honor for high-school player of the year, averaging 32.7 points per game. The following year he was selected with the 10th overall pick by the Bucks in the 2009 draft.
2. Value to the team
Greg: He’s arguably the Packers’ best receiver, though Donald Driver gets more commercials. (More on that in a moment.)
Brandon: He’s been with the Bucks for less than a quarter-season, and he’s already the team’s most recognizable player who doesn't regularly spend time on IR.
3. Endorsement deals
Greg: For now, he’s blowing up on a local level only. Select vehicles purchased from Russ Darrow’s car dealership are signed by Jennings on the exterior and the dashboard, along with an autographed football and jersey.
Brandon: Under Armour signed Brandon Jennings even before he high-tailed it to Europe. The company tapped Jennings to promote its first basketball shoe, which has been dubbed “Young Money.” Clearly success has no chance of going to this kid’s head.
4. Off-the-field controversy
Greg: Non-existent. Greg Jennings is to controversy what Ted Thompson is to personal warmth and charisma.
Brandon: Along with the gnashing of teeth that accompanied his decision to ditch college, Jennings courted controversy before the season started when he talked all kinds of smack about Ramon Sessions (“He’s not going to be here”), Luke Ridnour (“He’s going to be a backup”), Ricky Rubio (“all hype”) and the Knicks (“Them niggas is always gonna be weak”) that also happened to be pretty much on the money. Still, you have to wonder a bit about a guy who hangs out with certifiably terrible rapper Joe Budden, who leaked some of Jennings’ harshest (and most vulgar) slams after recording a post-draft phone conversation.
5. Professional accomplishments
Greg: In four seasons, No. 85 has recorded a catch in every game he’s played as a Packer.
Brandon: He almost became the second NBA player ever (after Oscar Robertson) to post a triple-double in his first pro game. He later dropped 55 points on a depleted Golden State team in a narrow win on November 14, breaking Lew Alcindor’s franchise record for a rookie.
AND THE BEST JENNINGS IS: GREG
C’mon, we can’t give the title to Brandon just yet. We have to wait until at least he finishes a full season (or trashes Ricky Rubio to Lupe Fiasco). For now, Greg Jennings is still the easiest Wisconsin sports star—Jennings or otherwise—to cheer for.