Craig: Turning 30 while in the NFL nothing to applaud

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 2, 2014 - 12:12 AM

Having that hallmark birthday is no present for players in the NFL.

 

Vikings left guard Charlie Johnson left Winter Park on Thursday as a young man, flew home to Durant, Okla., woke up Friday morning and grew old.

Happy birthday, Charlie. Welcome to life in the NFL as a 30-something.

“No doubt you’re definitely evaluated differently,” Vikings 31-year-old linebacker Chad Greenway said during this week’s voluntary minicamp. “It’s the old NFL adage. Once you turn 30, they try to get rid of you every day. You just got to keep giving them reasons not to. The NFL is a big machine, and it’s going to spit you out when it wants to. I’m just trying to fight against that as long as I can.”

Like all NFL teams, the Vikings prefer to thin their over-30 herd to a small group. Johnson is the ninth Viking on the roster to reach 30.

He’s also only the fifth projected starter, joining Greenway, receiver Greg Jennings (30), defensive end Brian Robison (31) and quarterback Matt Cassel (31).

Recently, Raiders 31-year-old defensive end Justin Tuck made headlines when he complained that the NFL’s free-agent market was disrespectful to productive players in their 30s. Tuck was willing to give the Giants what he considered a considerable discount to re-sign following an 11-sack season. When they declined, he signed with the Raiders.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the perception is the Vikings made a couple of sound business decisions to spend the bulk of their allotted defensive line salary cap dollars on 25-year-old Linval Joseph and 26-year-old Everson Griffen rather than 33-year-old Kevin Williams and 32-year-old Jared Allen.

So far, not even Allen’s decision to stay within the NFC North and sign with a Bears team ecstatic to acquire his seven-year streak of double-digit sacks has altered the assumption that the Vikings’ youth movement made sense.

“With changes in the [collective bargaining agreement], it’s been seen that the older players are getting restructured, getting cut, getting released maybe a year or two before maybe they normally would,” Greenway said. “As a player, you’ve got to keep fighting against that and go out and make as much hay as you can while you’re playing.”

Greenway speaks from experience. Soon after playing through a broken wrist to tie Scott Studwell’s team record of six consecutive seasons of leading the Vikings in tackles, Greenway risked being released — a la Antoine Winfield last spring — if he didn’t restructure the five-year, $40 million deal he signed in 2011.

In return for a guarantee of his base pay for this season, Greenway accepted a pay cut of $1 million to $5.5 million. So, essentially, he’s on a one-year, prove-it deal considering next year’s $7 million base salary can be wiped from the salary cap if Greenway is released.

“At first, your reaction is like anybody’s would be,” Greenway said. “I don’t care what you do. When somebody asks you that kind of question, initially your response is just like Justin [Tuck] said.

“I feel like I’ve given so much to this community and this organization and this team and fought through so many injuries and played.

“The reality is you got to think about your family first. I think the best decision for my family was to remain here, where we’re rooted and take a deal that was good for my family and good for the organization. And play basically this year out.”

Also resisting the urge to “feel anointed” as a veteran over 30 helped Greenway deal with the business side while sweating through a voluntary minicamp at the end of April.

“When I come to work, I’m not going to sloth around,” Greenway said. “It’s just not me.”

Meanwhile, Johnson awaits a Friday evening surprise birthday party he says he’s not supposed to know about.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta 5 Bottom 8th Inning
Pittsburgh 4
Miami 4 Bottom 4th Inning
St. Louis 2
Baltimore 4 Bottom 8th Inning
Detroit 4
Minnesota 4 Top 8th Inning
Boston 4
NY Yankees 3 Bottom 6th Inning
Tampa Bay 3
Philadelphia 1 Bottom 7th Inning
Toronto 0
Cincinnati 3:05 PM
Cleveland
Los Angeles 3:05 PM
Chicago WSox
Kansas City 3:05 PM
Seattle
Seattle 3:05 PM
Milwaukee
San Diego 3:10 PM
Arizona
NY Mets 4:05 PM
Washington
LA Angels 6:05 PM
Chicago Cubs
Colorado 8:05 PM
Texas
Oakland 9:05 PM
San Francisco
Indiana 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Pittsburgh 6:00 PM
Carolina
New Jersey 6:00 PM
Washington
Los Angeles 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Arizona 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Anaheim 6:00 PM
Boston
Nashville 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
San Jose 6:30 PM
Detroit
NY Rangers 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Florida 6:30 PM
Toronto
Montreal 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Wichita State 6:15 PM
Notre Dame
North Carolina 6:47 PM
Wisconsin
Evansville 7:30 PM
Louisiana
West Virginia 8:45 PM
Kentucky
Xavier 9:17 PM
Arizona
St Johns 6:00 PM
Villanova
NC State 6:00 PM
Temple
Missouri 6:00 PM
Michigan
Duquesne 6:00 PM
West Virginia
Ole Miss 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Oral Roberts 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Northern Colorado 9:00 PM
UCLA
St Marys-CA 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
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