The cameras focused on Chad Greenway at the end of Sunday’s 38-10 win against the Bears. The linebacker soaked in what could be his last on-field applause from Vikings fans.
“I wanted that moment,” Greenway said. “I was happy I got that moment. Again, if I don’t get another moment on U.S. Bank Stadium field, I got that moment. And my teammates were unbelievable today.”
After he was awarded the game ball by head coach Mike Zimmer, Greenway sounded like a man expecting to retire this offseason, but said he’ll take a couple weeks to decompress and discuss with his family following his 11th NFL campaign.
“He’s a guy that truly will always be one of my best guys,” Zimmer said.
Prior to this season, Greenway expected 2016 to be his last rodeo.
“Now I just needed some time to get away and my wife and I can make a decision,” Greenway said. “There’s no coming back in this league. It’s final, so I wanted it to be on my terms and that’s the way I want to do it.”
Should this be the end of the line for Greenway, a two-time Pro Bowler and 2006 first-round pick, he’ll have played 161 games with the Vikings as one of the franchise’s all-time leading tacklers. His six consecutive seasons as the Vikings leading tackler (2008-2013) ties Scott Studwell for the most in Vikings history. Greenway, who turns 34 on Jan. 12, appeared in all 16 games this season for the ninth time in his career.
Greenway specifically wanted to focus on routine interactions many can take for granted.
“I thought about this morning,” Greenway said. “You don’t realize you’re talking to security guards and people — Dave, our parking lot attendant, has been with me for 11 years. Relationships like that you don’t think about and you cherish.”
Easing his transition out of football, Greenway said, will be keeping his family of five in the Twin Cities, where he’s been since 2006. He’ll still contemplate whether he should consider playing for a different team for the first time. The Vikings have lessened Greenway’s role and salary the previous two seasons.
“That’s all stuff we have to figure out as we go,” Greenway said.
2010 v. 2016
Defensive end Brian Robison has been through a lot as a Vikings veteran, but maintains the chaotic 2016 season still doesn’t reach the events from six years ago.
“It wasn’t quite as weird as 2010, but it’s definitely 2010’s running mate,” Robison said. “If there’s a President, it’d be 2010 and 2016 would be the Vice President.”
This season, which started at 5-0 and ended 8-8, has seen a bevy of season-ending injuries, the resignation of offensive coordinator Norv Turner, a chartered plane stuck for six hours in Appleton, Wis., multiple eye surgeries for the head coach and was capped by two protestors hanging from the rafters of U.S. Bank Stadium for three quarters of Sunday’s win.
“Well, U.S. Bank Stadium didn’t collapse,” Robison countered. “We didn’t play a home game in Detroit. We didn’t spend four days in Philly. Coach didn’t get fired, so that’s always good. Yeah, we brought in Randy [Moss in 2010] and shipped off Randy.”
Rudy hits pay escalator
Tight end Kyle Rudolph set a handful of franchise records Sunday with 11 receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Rudolph’s 83 receptions this season are the most by a Vikings tight end. His 29 career touchdown grabs are also a Vikings record for his position. And by eclipsing 80 receptions this year, Rudolph trigged a $375,000 escalator in his contract for his 2018 and 2019 salaries.
“Whether I catch 83 balls or 50 balls, I’d much rather be making a little bit more money next week with a playoff check and making a deep run in the playoffs,” Rudolph said.
Rhodes gets five picks
With his fifth interception of the season Sunday, cornerback Xavier Rhodes became the first Vikings cornerback to reach that total since 2003.
“Well, the one thing Xavier has not done very well in the past is catch the ball,” Zimmer said. “And he’s made a lot of catches.”
Matt Vensel contributed to this report.