At 32, Chad Greenway is a young man in every walk of life except the path he’s on. In NFL years, the Vikings outside linebacker and his knees are old. But they’re smarter this time of year, which Greenway believes will translate into the three of them staying productive throughout another season.
Earlier today, Greenway and several teammates were at Winter Park starting the second week of the team’s offseason conditioning program. For Greenway, it’s the early stages of working his way toward the NFL benchmark of 10 seasons. And it comes after Greenway gave himself extra time to recover from rib, wrist, hand and knee injuries that cost him four games a year ago. The only four games he has missed since a torn ACL wiped out his entire rookie season in 2006.
“The longer you play, the longer it takes you to recover,” Greenway told reporters allowed to watch today’s workouts. “So you take that time to get your body to get back to as good as it’s going to be, I guess. You just have to take it at your own pace. But we’re working pretty hard here.
“I don’t run as much as I used to. I ride more bike this time of year. I run when I have to. Get in top shape the way I can do it without pounding the body, especially the knees. But that’s just part of the deal. It’s hard on you so eventually you’re going to break down.”
Greenway was asked what his plans are beyond 2015. He laughed.
“I knew that was coming,” Greenway said. “I don’t know how it’s going to go. I’ll tell you I’m enjoying everything with the idea of, ‘Who knows?’ We’ll see. Ten years is sort of that is sort of that unwritten … everyone wants to get there. We’ll see what happens.”
Ten years with the same team is even more unusual.
“I’m certainly proud of that,” he said. “It’s not something a lot of people can talk about, being at one place for 10 years. Not only having the staying power to play at that level, but also having an organization want to back you for that long. To immerse myself in the community more and more and knowing that we’re going to be staying here post-football is nice to know.”
Some other highlights from Greenway:
On Year 2 in coach Mike Zimmer’s program:
“It’s a lot better. First of all, one less mini-camp. Second of all, your head isn’t spinning as much now from this staff and what their expectations are and what’s in the playbook at how it’s going to come at you. I think we’ll be moving a lot faster as we get going.”
On whether he knows if his role will change:
“Not at all. I’m going out there obviously expecting to play every snap and help the team win. Whatever happens, happens. We just want to find a new way to win.”
On having to take a pay cut for the second straight offseason:
“It’s a non-issue. We were able to work through it and created a good environment for us.”
On talking to Adrian Peterson recently:
“I talked to him a little while ago and kind of shared some thoughts with him. I think everyone is in support of him and trying to come back and try to be a part of this group. We’ll see how it all shakes out.
“We had a good conversation. When you play with a guy going on nine years, you have a great relationship, and I do with him. He said his piece and I just heard him out. Obviously he brings a lot to our team and we’d love to have him back this offseason and start working with him.”
On whether the ACL he tore as a rookie has given him problems since 2006:
“Yes. Consistently. I’ve had it scoped a couple of different times since then. That’s been documented that I’ve missed time for that in the offseason. It’s ongoing and it’s always been my biggest issue is my knees. I had one in college and one in the pros. It’s just something you learn to deal with and that’s ultimately at the end of the day, after my 10th season, that will be the deciding factor for me [trying to play an 11th season]. Do I want to continue to punish my body? We’ll see how it goes.”