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

Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 9
Washington 0 FINAL
Miami 8
Boston 4 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Houston 3
Toronto - WP: C. Hynes 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: D. Hinojosa 7
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Norberto 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Whitley 0
St. Louis 5 FINAL
NY Mets 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Kansas City 4
LA Angels 1 FINAL
Oakland 4
San Diego 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox 2
Chicago WSox 12 FINAL
Seattle 4
Cleveland 2 FINAL
San Francisco 5
Milwaukee 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 11
Arizona 3 FINAL
Cincinnati 0
Texas 4 FINAL
Colorado 10
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Baltimore 3
Detroit 78 FINAL
Charlotte 102
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Washington 106
San Antonio 103 FINAL
Orlando 91
Indiana 87 FINAL
Boston 100
Brooklyn 100 FINAL
New York 98
Chicago 91 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Dallas 135 FINAL
Oklahoma City 131
Sacramento 111 FINAL
Houston 115
Toronto 113 FINAL
Minnesota 99
Denver 84 FINAL
Utah 98
LA Clippers 126 FINAL
Portland 122
New Orleans 113 4th Qtr 0:02
LA Lakers 92
Toronto 3 FINAL
Buffalo 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Anaheim 5
Colorado 0 3rd Prd 10:49
San Jose 2
Loyola-Chicago 63 FINAL
ULM 62
UCLA 69 FINAL
Michigan 65
Temple 58 FINAL
West Virginia 66
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 NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What should the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close