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Crystal ball cloudy for many veterans

Jan 13, 2013 -- 3:15am
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Greg Jennings is likely to be playing elsewhere next year, and he's not alone.

SAN FRANCISCO – Jermichael Finley knows that NFL stands for National Football League, but he was using it for another acronym on Saturday night: Not. For. Long.

That’s how the Green Bay Packers tight end was viewing the team’s 45-31 NFC Divisional Playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park, as he and other teammates knew that it might’ve been the last time they’d work together.

“It’s the nature of the business. It’s a funny one,” Finley said. “The logo stands true – NFL. If anybody goes anywhere, hopefully they make the best of it. Hopefully it’s not me. I want to be here forever.”

The five players whose futures seemed cloudiest were wide receiver Greg Jennings, who will be an unrestricted free agent; wide receiver Donald Driver, who figures to consider retirement but could wind up playing elsewhere as his one-year restructured contract is up; and Finley, safety Charles Woodson and linebacker A.J. Hawk, all of whom have hefty salaries and bonuses due next season that could price them out of Green Bay.

“Those decisions will be made down the road. I don't know how that works out,” Woodson said. “But I'm going to play football, if that's what you're asking.”

Driver said he wasn’t thinking about retirement but acknowledged that a choice looms.

“I wasn’t thinking about it and I have to make a decision soon. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be a tough decision,” Driver said. “I’ll sit down with my wife and kids. They’re in Dallas right now. I’ll have to go home and sit down with them, and figure out what’s the next step.

“I’m still having fun. That’s the best part about it. I don’t know if that will be here or somewhere else. I’m just not sure. I think it’s always tough when you get to this point of your career and you have to make tough decisions, and I’ll have to make a tough one. We’ll see what happens.”

Driver played on special teams – on the punt return and field-goal block units – after being inactive two of the previous three weeks.

“It felt good. That’s the thing I always say I want to help the team win. That’s what I was all about when I walked in here in 1999 and it hasn’t changed,” Driver said of playing on special teams. “If it’s helping our team get a victory, that’s what it’s all about.”

Asked what it meant to him to come back to the team this season despite his limited role, Driver replied, “I think the thing is regardless of what happens you’re going to miss the guys you build relationships with. I’m hoping this relationship won’t end, but if it does, I’ve gotten close to a lot of guys on this team and I’m going to continue to be friends with most, probably everyone on this team and move onto the second chapter of my career whatever that may be.”

Jennings, whose possible final catch as a Packer was a touchdown from Aaron Rodgers, said it was Rodgers who made sure he was on the field for the final play. What his future holds is unclear.

“I love this organization, but the reality of it is there will probably be some changes made. Hopefully, I’m here, but if not I’m ready to move wherever,” Jennings said. “It is what it is. I’m not naïve to that being a realist. I love this organization. I really wouldn’t want to go anywhere else, but if I have to that’s what I’m ready to do.

“Season’s over, possibly career change – path, not career change, but a path change – it is what it is. I’m excited what the future holds whether it’s here or anywhere else. Time to work.

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