For years, Chad Greenway was one of the young leaders on the Vikings roster. A first-round draft pick in 2006, when healthy he has been a starter for the entirety of his career.
But as he prepares to enter his 10th NFL season, he isn’t sure if his future is with the Vikings. On getaway day Monday, he said he will playing football in 2015, but doesn’t know if it will be with the Vikings.
“I’m playing for sure somewhere – the CFL or something,” Greenway joked. “We’ll see what happens.”
Greenway will continue to be at Winter Park over the coming weeks as he rehabs a knee injury. As the South Dakota native has said over the years, he grew up a Vikings fans, has been thrilled to play his career with the team he grew up cheering on and, if possible, would like to end his career in purple and gold.
“I want to finish a Viking,” Greenway said. “I’ve said that from Day One and I want to continue to say that. This organization has been amazing for me and my family and I hope to be able to finish here. I hope that can happen.”
The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind for Greenway. Not only was he missing time – the first time since his 2006 rookie season was wiped out with an injury – but his life was turned upside down Dec. 19 when his father Alan died at the age of 56 following a two-year battle with leukemia. Not knowing where his professional career is heading, he had the added weight of needing to be a strong son, husband and father for his family.
“It’s has been a long week, obviously,” Greenway said. “We’ve had so much support and people reaching out to our family positively. We’ve leaned on that – that old adage that (God) won’t give more than you can handle. We can handle quite a bit as a family. We’re a resilient group because of my father. We just continue to lean on that, lean on each other. It’s a tough time. For those who have lost somebody that is that close to them, it’s difficult. Your mind gets swamped with what’s going on and what’s happened. You try to get your head around it. Being injured on top of it, just icing on the cake. Just a terrible experience last week. But we put him to rest and we’re moving forward.”
At question for Greenway professionally moving forward is what the Vikings have planned for him. Since he first started playing football, Greenway has been a starter – from high school to college to the pros. He admitted it would be a difficult adjustment to being a situational backup. He wants to be a starter or at least have a legitimate chance to be a full-time player.
The problem is that the Vikings have been on a youth movement on both sides of the ball for the last two or three years and even some of their top veteran leaders have been shown the door – just ask Antoine Winfield, Jared Allen and Kevin Williams. If Greenway doesn’t fit in the Vikings’ plans, it may entail uprooting his family and moving them temporarily to another city in another state.
He remains under contract for 2015 but has an imposing $8.8 million cap number that the Vikings could look to decrease. He admitted it won’t simply be his decision as to where his football future goes. It will be a family decision.
“It plays a big role,” Greenway said. “My daughters are big-time Vikings fans. It would be a change if that had to happen. We make every decision based on our family. We won’t change for this decision. It won’t simply come down to money or business. It’ll come down to what’s best for the family and we’ll stay consistent with those decisions.”
Just as he was the pride and joy of his father and grandfather carrying on the family name in a public spotlight, as a father himself, he realizes how important having someone to come home to after a brutal practice or difficult loss can be. When he was first starting in the NFL, it was just him. Now he has a wife and children to consider and going home is a much different prospect than it was when he was early in his career.
“It does make it so much more fun doing everything with your family,” Greenway said. “You take so much more pride in your work and you carry yourself and handle yourself knowing they carry the same last name as you have and you represent them in some ways.”
What the plans are for the Vikings family – in the NFL, “family” often tends to have the implication of a Mafia family – have yet to be made known. Until that happens, Greenway will wait and see what the front office’s decision will be concerning his future with the purple and gold. He’s hoping that the service he has given the organization and the positive relationship he has had through two ownership groups and three head coaches will win the day and he will be granted his wish of retiring as a Viking – a rare player who spends a long NFL career with just one team.
Whether that happens will be determined over the next few weeks, so Greenway wasn’t giving a farewell address Monday. It may turn out that it was, but until he’s told he’s no longer a Viking, he’s keeping hope that he will remain a fixture in Minnesota sports.
“I don’t think you really have any real indication until they dig into their plans for the offseason what they want to do and where they want to go with this football team,” Greenway said. “It’s just when you give so much to an organization, you want to be able to continue to play for them. I know sometimes in this league, loyalty is questioned on both sides – the player and the organization. I think in my case, it’s been a pretty good relationship for the most part and you hope you can make that work. Being a loyal guy myself, I just want to be able to do that. But, at the same point you understand that it’s a business and you have to make the correct decision when it comes up.”
Myriad factors play into Greenway’s return
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