Small-town guy earns a big-time NFL paycheck

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 6, 2011 - 12:45 PM

Chad Greenway grew up playing nine-man football in South Dakota. Now the LB is the new $41 million man.

hide

Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway didn't have to sign a five-year, $41 million deal worth a guaranteed $20 million Monday.

At 28, in the prime of his career and playing at a time when NFL salaries are climbing rapidly, Greenway could have played out the 2011 season, made the $10.9 million bonanza that came with the franchise tag and possibly gone after even more money on the open market in 2012.

"Nah," Greenway said. "I wasn't concerned about all that."

Though he has just become one of the highest-paid 4-3 outside linebackers in league history, Greenway still has inside him that skinny, little farm kid who beat the odds playing nine-man football in tiny Mount Vernon, S.D.

"You got to sell a lot of feeder pigs to make that kind of money," said Greenway, referring to Monday's payday. "That's a lot of hours in the barn."

The Vikings were eager to get a deal done with Greenway. So eager that they put a long-term deal for All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson on the back burner to make sure they extended Greenway before a Sept. 20 league-imposed deadline that ends negotiations with franchise players.

"Chad is one of those guys who is really on the [rise] from a leadership standpoint and as a playmaker," coach Leslie Frazier said.

"You really want to get those guys in the fold. He's one of those guys that if he gets on the market, it's going to be tough to keep him."

Greenway agreed to the deal a couple of days ago, but waited until the players returned to work Monday to sign the contract. Before the ink was dry, he called home with the good news.

The Greenways of Mount Vernon, S.D., run a hog, crop and cattle farm. Chad's dad, Alan, is a rural mail carrier as well. In other words, the Greenways don't have time for phone call chit-chat during the middle of the day.

So when Chad reached his mother, Julie, she had three things to say: 1. She was happy because she wouldn't have to buy new jerseys for the next five years; 2. She was happy the granddaughters, Maddyn and Beckett, will stay relatively close to home; and 3. She had to run because she had to go rake some hay.

"She had to let me go," Greenway said. "She's really busy."

Greenway grew up in that town of fewer than 400 people. Loading hogs, fixing fences, raking hay, you name it. But he also dreamed early and relentlessly about playing in the NFL.

"I was a [high school] quarterback for about six minutes," Greenway said. "Then they moved me to safety. Then to linebacker about a month later. The hard part was gaining 50 pounds. I was really skinny."

He won two high school state nine-man titles, went to Iowa and was drafted 17th overall by the Vikings in 2006.

Covering a kickoff on the third play of his first preseason game, Greenway's season ended when he blew out a knee.

"Obviously, it's been a long road since then," Greenway said. "When the ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] popped, it really started from there. Just wanting to get better and more consistent every day."

The Vikings value Greenway's consistency, versatility and comfort level in a defensive system that's been in place since Greenway's rookie season.

He's a three-down player trusted with handling tight ends and running backs in man coverage and even receivers in underneath zone coverages. He also has led the team in tackles in each of the past three years.

Greenway praised the Vikings as a "top-notch" organization and said he couldn't be happier with how far the skinny, little kid from Mount Vernon, S.D., has come

"You get put in the right positions," Greenway said. "Then a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, and here we are."

  • VIKINGS

    Season opener: 3:15 p.m. Sunday at San Diego • Qualcomm Stadium • TV: Ch. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 6:00 PM
Orlando
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Cleveland
Washington 6:30 PM
Miami
Minnesota 6:30 PM
Boston
Toronto 6:30 PM
Detroit
Chicago 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:00 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Denver
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Ottawa
NY Islanders 6:30 PM
Detroit
Boston 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Dallas 8:00 PM
Calgary
Wilberforce 12:30 PM
Youngstown St
Jackson State 1:00 PM
Tulane
Siena 5:00 PM
Radford
Stillman 6:00 PM
Alabama
Case Western Reserve 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Niagara 6:00 PM
Buffalo
SD Christian 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Concordia (MI) 6:00 PM
Central Mich
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
North Florida 6:00 PM
Florida A&M
Hiwassee 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Kent State
Central Penn College 6:00 PM
Liberty
Bethune-Cookman 6:00 PM
Mercer
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Morehead State
Northern Ariz 6:00 PM
Norfolk State
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
St Johns
Clemson 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Tennessee
Washington-MD 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Furman 6:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
South Dakota St 6:30 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Milligan 7:00 PM
Lamar
LSU-Alexandria 7:00 PM
ULM
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Chattanooga 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Seattle 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Princeton
Winthrop 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Dickinson State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
New Orleans 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
Creighton
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Denver
Alabama A&M 8:00 PM
Marquette
Ark-Pine Bluff 8:00 PM
Texas Tech
Eastern Wash 9:00 PM
California
Idaho State 9:05 PM
Utah State
Arizona 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 10:59 PM
Chaminade
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 32 2nd Half 14:57
Purdue 40
Campbell 16 1st Half 11:26
Stetson 19
Jacksonville St 1:00 PM
Charleston Southern
Louisiana 1:00 PM
Alcorn State
Denver 1:30 PM
Wright State
Texas State 2:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Blue Mountain 2:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Albany 3:00 PM
Pepperdine
TX-San Antonio 3:00 PM
Houston
Yale 3:30 PM
Bucknell
Northern Colorado 3:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Belmont 4:00 PM
Mercer
Massachusetts 4:00 PM
Georgia State
George Mason 4:05 PM
Winthrop
Portland State 4:30 PM
Princeton
UCLA 5:00 PM
Samford
Mobile 5:00 PM
Alabama State
Nicholls 5:30 PM
Texas Tech
Toledo 5:30 PM
Nevada
UMass Lowell 5:30 PM
(13) Duke
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
Virginia
McNeese State 6:00 PM
Rice
McMurry 6:00 PM
Houston Baptist
NJIT 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
(6) North Carolina 6:00 PM
Maine
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Siena 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Longwood 6:00 PM
Clemson
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Florida State
(19) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Ohio U 6:00 PM
La Salle
Canisius 6:00 PM
Michigan
Davidson 6:00 PM
NC State
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Delaware
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Austin Peay
(25) DePaul 6:30 PM
(2) Connecticut
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Tulane
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
Memphis
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
UAB
Bowling Green 7:05 PM
Illinois State
Arkansas State 7:05 PM
Missouri State
ULM 7:05 PM
Wichita State
(16) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Southern Ill
Utah Valley U 8:30 PM
Montana
Pacific 9:00 PM
New Mexico St
No Dakota State 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Utah State 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Bethesda (CA) 9:00 PM
Fresno State
LSU 9:30 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Christian Ponder ever be a full-time starter in the NFL?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close