Lions general manager Ed Hervey provided more depth and detail about questioning the work ethic of quarterback Jonathon Jennings and addressed his agent’s response on TSN radio in Vancouver Monday evening.
Hervey joined Matt Sekeres and Blake Price on the station’s drive home show.
Question: What prompted the comments about Jennings?
Hervey: “The misunderstanding – people were acting as if I was criticising – it was a fair question that was asked to me about where I see him and I’ve been around some guys and how he ranks: I’ve been around Ricky Ray, I’ve been around Jason Maas, I’ve been around Mike Reilly and I was just answering the question honestly. And if people are not prepared to hear honest answers than close your ears. That’s the way I am, I wasn’t taking a nock on the young man, I’ve been one of his biggest supporters. But what I see is what I see. The ones that have wanted to be elite are around, they spend a lot of time with their coordinators. It wasn’t a knock that he’s not doing it because I think he can’t be [elite]. I don’t think Jonathon was sensitive about it, I think it was more so his agent that was more sensitive about it.”
Q: What does seeing Jennings around the facility more do for the team?
Hervey: “Here’s the thing: we had a conversation in the spring and it was about making the team yours, the good ones have, the good ones do spend time with your coordinators, sometimes you got to dedicate more than four-and-a-half, five hours just on the playbook, sometimes you have to spend time around the gameplan with the coordinators, get comfortable with what they’re doing. It wasn’t saying that he can’t be an elite quarterback. I didn’t come here to be fair, I didn’t come here to be nice, I came here to win and at least do my part to put ourselves in the best position to compete for championships.”
Q: Do you wish that Jennings worked harder?
Hervey: “He has all the tools, but what I’m saying is when the question was asked about those other quarterbacks, those guys stayed around the facility. I had to excuse Mike Reilly from meetings when I would go down to speak with Jason [Maas] or Chris [Jones], he practically lived there because he wanted to feel comfortable with the game plan going in. So that was the comparison that was drawn based on the examples that I had. It wasn’t, ‘Hey let’s take a shot at Jonathon today because it’s the right time to do so’. I’m not here to motivate any of the players, I don’t need to do any of that. My sole responsibility to this football team is to put us in the best position personnel-wise, manage the cap, the roster the best way I can to give us a chance.”
“If someone asked me a question, I’m going to answer it honestly. I’d be a fool if I said he’s in the same calibre as a Ricky Ray if I didn’t believe it. People gotta understand this isn’t an indictment on him and it wasn’t criticism toward him. I get it people take what is said and then they look at it and go, ‘Oh my goodness’, is he criticising? Did he throw him under the bus? Trust me I got more ways to throw a player under the bus if I chose to do so, but that’s not something that I would ever take any route of doing if it’s undeserving, there is no need for it. But the fact of the matter is that when asked a question, when you’re talking about comparing, someone should tell me how I should answer. Would they like a cliche answer? And give them some false hope or do they want the honest, passionate answer and you take it for what it is? Recognize it wasn’t a criticism of the young man it was more so of here is the comparison of the two.”
Q: Your response to what Jennings’ agent said? (Hervey laughs when hearing the agent’s comment.)
Hervey: “Someone showed me that: I thought it was cute and colourful because he’s never here, I’ve only seen him here once and I think he watched a game from the cafeteria upstairs in the press box, I don’t think he even watched the game, so I don’t think he watched it live. I find the comments from the agent to be always cute. But in all fairness, he’s not part of this journey, he’s gotta protect his player, I’ve had conversations with him, he’s an over-emotional guy that just felt that he would have to throw that out there. But my commitment and my work ethic is not in question here. My work speaks for itself as we go on the field all the time in the building process. If the agent wants to come up and sit around and see who’s at work, he’s more than welcome to come up here. I found his comments to be really cute and colourful and amusing to me quite honestly.”
Q: What’s a typical workday for you?
Hervey: “I’m there every day for about 12-13 hours. I wake up at four o’clock at home and I work the phones. The whole Tyrell Sutton trade, for example, started at 4:30 a.m. pacific time. I don’t need to defend myself. If someone wants to work with me throughout the year, I’m pretty sure that I would wear down anyone who has to spend as much time with me because they wouldn’t get any sleep.”
Q: Are you worried about the timing of this storyline?
Hervey: “No. Absolutely not. Absolutely not. No. No. The weak-minded usually worry about that stuff. Now we may have a sensitive agent or two. This is the attitude that I have, it’s about being passionate about what we do.”
Q: No chats with Jennings needed between the two of you?
Hervey: “I spoke to Jonathon after the game, congratulated him on the game and told him it’s within my right to say what I want to say. That’s pretty much it. I’m not here to make him feel bad, I’m not here to intimidate him. You got two options: you can go to your agent and have them speak for you or you can come talk to me. That’s where I sit on the whole matter. The players that have been around me know that I have their back. I may make some people feel uncomfortable because I’m not warm and fuzzy to everyone.”
Q: If Jennings came to you after your comments, what would you tell him motivated them?
Hervey: “Words should never make a player feel pressure. The game is harder than any words that could be said. Don Matthews before I walked on the field in my first game he told me he was going to through me the ball deep if I drop the ball he’s cutting me. That stuff didn’t phase me. If some people feel slighted by it or they feel it’s affecting them, I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about the guys who can rise above perceived criticism to go out there and play their best. If agents are frustrated then they should really evaluate themselves more so before they make comments.”