Now officially a former Vikings linebacker, Chad Greenway spoke for nearly 25 minutes before fielding the first question of his retirement press conference at Winter Park this morning.
With teammates, coaches and former Vikings greats such as Bud Grant, Carl Eller and Paul Krause in attendance, Greenway took his audience on a journey from his earliest football dreams as a 5-year-old growing up in Mount Vernon, S.D., to the final realization that, “I don’t want to play football anymore.”
Greenway thanked dozens of people from all walks of his professional and personal lives. Only once — when he got to his mother, Julie, and late father, Alan, who passed away in 2014 — did he become misty-eyed and have to pause to say “I got to pull it together here.”
“The most amazing man in the world. Hands down,” Greenway said of Alan, who was a mailman who also ran the family farm with the help of his wife and kids. “I know he’s looking down on me. I’m so proud to carry the name that he gave me and hold it to a high standard. I’m so proud to be his son. It was hard losing him, but at the same time it’s fun to be able to carry on his name and his legacy with my [four daughters].”
Greenway then motioned to his wife, Jennifer, and four young daughters, one of which was in a baby carrier, while saying his next job — “The No. 1 job in my life” — will be as a father and coach to his children.
“Obviously, you’re my life,” he said. “My daughter [Maddyn] won a state basketball championship last weekend. I was able to coach her, which was awesome. If you’re going to ask me what I’m going to do next, I’m going to be a coach. And probably a championship coach, it sounds like, with these guys.”
Greenway also talked about the goals he has set for himself over the years. Goals he has met and one significant one — a Super Bowl title — that he fell short on.
“To be able to get a Division I scholarship was a goal,” he said. “I had one offer and I made the most out of it. Thank you, Iowa. …. To be an All-American was a goal. To be drafted in the NFL was certainly a goal. And as I got into the NFL, the goals just changed. My goal became, I wanted to be All-Pro. I got that. The Pro Bowl. I got that. I wanted to be a great teammate and a leader. I was certainly that.
“I wanted to be able to finish my career as a Viking. … That’s how you do it. My goal [after my second contract] was to figure out a way to have enough value within this organization, to be able to stay here until I wanted to be done. Not only to finish a Viking, but to go out with another goal of finishing my way. Winning a Super Bowl was the only goal I haven’t accomplished, this today is a goal that I’m accomplishing. This is my final goal that I’ll accomplish in the NFL. Probably the final goal that I’ll achieve as a player was to go out and retire on my own terms. Doing it my way and looking back on a career that I don’t have to live with any regret. I never took a day off. I never took the easy way out. I started from nowhere and was able to achieve the highest standard of our profession.”
Greenway ended his thank yous by thanking the fans.
“South Dakota fans, Iowa Hawkeye fans and obviously the millions of Minnesota Vikings fans. Thank you for everything. I’ve been so proud to be your linebacker of the past 11 years.”