Fans and media often criticize NFL players for not living up to their responsibility as role models. Wednesday, the Vikings’ reigning role model challenged reporters and everyone else to step up and become more active in enriching their communities.
“We all have different types of resources at our disposal, and no matter how little or menial they are, they can definitely benefit somebody,” linebacker Chad Greenway said Wednesday while accepting his third Vikings Community Man of the Year award. “I just challenge everybody to do a little bit more.”
Greenway was 22, a rookie out of Iowa in 2006, when he first became involved in the community as a Viking. He spoke at a breast cancer fundraiser and admits, “I really didn’t know what to say or what to do.”
But as he got more involved and began having his three daughters, he and his wife, Jennifer, became passionate about children’s causes. Today, they run the “Lead The Way Foundation (chadgreenway.org),” which has raised more than $1.5 million for children’s causes since 2009.
“Once you get involved, it’s almost like something you need to do more of because it makes you feel so much better to go out and do something for somebody else,” Greenway said. “As you do more and more events, you just gain this passion of just trying to help people.”
Greenway, who also won this award in 2011 and 2014, remembered back in middle school, growing up on a farm in South Dakota, when his parents worked through their local church to deliver meals to families in need during the holidays. Today, he sees his two oldest daughters, 8 and 5, starting to take notice of the family’s charitable efforts.
“This is becoming bigger than football,” Greenway said. “We want this to become our family legacy in some ways.”
Greenway is one of 32 team representatives that will be considered for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, which will be named at the Super Bowl in February.
“I would definitely put this award up there with any individual award I’ve received for playing football, if not a greater award because it’s so much work off the field,” Greenway said. “It’s about doing more than being a football player.”
Smith back, Joseph out
Free safety Harrison Smith, who missed Sunday’s game at Atlanta because of a knee sprain, was limited in Wednesday’s practice, but two other starters — nose tackle Linval Joseph (foot) and strong safety Andrew Sendejo (knee) — missed practice.
Another starter — linebacker Anthony Barr (hand/groin) — also was limited. Meanwhile, two players — cornerback Trae Waynes (ankle) and safety Robert Blanton (ankle) — were on the injury with full practice participation. Waynes wasn’t able to play Sunday.
Smith practicing is good news for a team that had to play nearly three full quarters with two backup safeties on Sunday. Asked after practice how he felt compared with last week, Smith said, “A lot better. I’m still not doing everything right now, but I’ll get some more action tomorrow and should have a pretty good idea by Friday.”
Zim’s new career?
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t like injury questions. When reporters frame injury questions by saying “is there a chance …” Zimmer typically seizes the opportunity to point out that there’s always a chance of pretty much anything happening.
Zimmer didn’t miss his opportunity Wednesday when asked if there was a chance the Vikings would have to play Sunday’s game without both of their starting safeties.
“There is a chance that if I lose 100 pounds, I could be a jockey,” Zimmer said.
“I always wanted to be,” Zimmer said. “Riding those Triple Crown winners. That would be pretty fun.”
Teammates voted offensive tackle Phil Loadholt as the team’s 2015 Ed Block Courage award winner. Loadholt came back from a torn pectoral muscle that wiped out five games a year ago only to miss all of this season because of a torn Achilles’ tendon.