There was never a doubt in the mind of Geneva B. Jennings-Addison.
A diehard fan of her son and current Chicago Bears cornerback, Tim, she knew the former Orangeburg-Wilkinson standout had something special in store this season.
“Before the season started,” Jennings-Addison recalled, “I prayed about this. I said ‘Lord, whatever you have for my son, bless him. I would love to go to the Super Bowl if it’s meant for you to have us go to the Super Bowl. If not, let us go to the Pro Bowl.’”
“Before the season started, I told Tim, ‘This is your season, honey.’ He said, ‘Mama, how do you know that?’ I said, ‘This is your season because I already prayed to the Lord and asked the Lord to grant it to you. This is your season and all I want you to do is to be humble.’”
Call it divine intervention. Call it a mother’s intuition. Whatever you call it, be sure you call it a fact because tonight, Tim Jennings will play in his first Pro Bowl as a starter.
“We’re very proud,” Melissa Jennings said when asked about her younger brother’s achievement. “It’s very seldom when one gets the moment and we have a lot of professional athletes that come from Orangeburg and our surrounding areas. We’re so extremely proud of the guy.”
Jennings, who was also named as a second-team All-NFL cornerback, had a breakout year for the Bears this season. In 14 games, the former Georgia Bulldog recorded 60 tackles, 21 pass deflections and nine interceptions (one of which he returned for a touchdown). The effort that Jennings has put forth this season and each of his previous six seasons in the National Football League is truly a testament to his love for the game.
“He definitely loves the game,” Jennings said of her brother, “and I think that’s what makes him a little bit different than most. Not only just the challenges that he’s faced as far as like growing up, the vertical challenge as far as his height and all the stuff that he’s heard throughout his entire career. Knowing that he just loves the game, that in itself plays to his advantage because he’s playing with heart.”
That aspect of Tim’s game was one that evolved with a little help from his older brother, Jerrod, who bought Tim his first football uniform when he was 5 years old.
“I took Tim to all of his practices,” Jennings-Addison said. “Sometimes, I’d stay at his practices. When I used to see him get knocked down, I used to try to run out there. But Jerrod told me ‘No, Mama. Let him be a man. He’ll get up.’ Sure enough, he’d get up and start running again.”
The encouragement Jennings received to play was evident. The support Jennings received from his family was unwavering as Jennings-Addison rarely missed any of his games at O-W, Georgia and even in Chicago. But the support that he received from friends and others to get to this point is arguably unparalleled.
“I don’t know how much the family did itself,” Melissa Jennings said about her brother’s Pro Bowl campaign. “But of course, you know, everybody’s a part of social media. Facebook, Twitter, things of that nature. So I think as far as me and my cousins, we put it out there. What was so interesting was that a lot of people that I had asked to start voting were already voting anyway. So what we asked for was just a little bit extra, but people were already doing it. So that in itself told us just how much support he really does have.”
After getting 312,596 votes, Jennings will be one of five Chicago Bears starting for the NFC in the Pro Bowl this year. The effort Jennings put forth on the field has afforded him the opportunity to say thank you to 15 friends and members of his family by having them flown to Hawaii to watch him play in the Pro Bowl. Likewise, his family is thankful for the support Jennings has gotten in order to put him in this position.
“It was laid on my heart,” Jennings-Addison said. “I know that was God’s doing. I said, ‘You know something? I’m going to get my daughter to write an ad to put in The Times and Democrat to thank Orangeburg County for their support and all they’ve done to help us get where we’re at. So, when it was laid on my heart, I told Tim. He said, ‘Mama, you’re doing that?’ I said, ‘Yes, I’m doing that from the bottom of my heart from me and all of you because you’re all my children.’ He understood how I felt.”
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