What was seemingly inevitable became official on Tuesday when Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway announced his retirement from the NFL.
Greenway, at the time a linebacker out of Iowa, was the No. 17 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He tore his ACL before the regular season that year, but bounced back and spent his entire career with the Vikings.
While we laud professional athletes for what they do on the field, Greenway is just as popular for his ability to tackle as he is for being a face in the community. He’s led his family in all kinds of charity work, and he’s known in the locker room as an all-around good guy.
Here are four things we’ll remember about Chad Greenway.
2015 Interception, 91-Yard Touchdown Return
It was September 2015 and the Vikings were hosting the Chargers at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings held a 24-7 lead at the start of the fourth quarter when Greenway made a play that sealed a victory. He was in the right place for a deflected pass, grabbed it for the interception and had nothing but a host of teammates and green turf in front of him. It was a 91-yard interception return for a touchdown.
The play was the fifth-longest “pick 6” in Vikings history. He finished his career with 11 interceptions, but probably none more enjoyable than that one. After all, defensive touchdowns don’t come around very often.
More Than 1,100 Career Tackles, 18 Sacks
Chad Greenway was a heck of a football player, and the Vikings will have a hole to fill now that he’s no longer playing football. He finished 11 seasons with more than 1,100 career tackles and 18 sacks to go along with the 11 interceptions. He was voted the Vikings’ defense MVP in 2010, 2012 and 2013. He was also named to the Pro Bowl in 2012.
More importantly, he was the on-field go-to guy for the Vikings defense. He made a lot of calls on the field and was the undisputed leader both between the lines and in the locker room.
Showed Durability After ACL Injury
It sounds weird to say for a guy who tore his ACL in his rookie season, but Chad Greenway was incredibly durable for an NFL linebacker. In nine of his 10 seasons, he played all 16 regular season games. Only in 2014 was he limited to 12 games. In six of those 10 seasons, he finished with more than 100 tackles and did that four straight years from 2010-13.
When Mike Zimmer took over as head coach three years ago, he agreed to a reduced role at linebacker as the Vikings went younger at the position. It helped Greenway stay healthy, and he was a better player when he was on the field due to the reduced snaps. As he said in his Tuesday news conference, “I never took a day off. I never took the easy way out.”
Class Act Away From Football
Greenway said Tuesday he is the man and player he is because of his parents. His mother still runs their family farm, two years after his dad’s death from cancer. If you were to model the ideal football player who is the ultimate competitor on the field and can turn the switch off to being a human being after the game or practice, it’s Chad Greenway.
He and his wife, Jenni, have four kids and they are among the most philanthropic couple you’ll find when it comes to charity. Greenway runs the Lead the Way Foundation, which helps enrich the lives of people and families in need. Greenway is constantly seen at community events, seeing kids battling disease at the hospital or contributing to charities by volunteering or donating. In September 2016, Greenway and his wife broke ground on a $75,000 handicap accessible playground at the Ronald McDonald House of the Twin Cities.
He’s been named the Vikings Community Man of the Year four times, including three straight years from 2014-16.
Chad Greenway dished out numerous thank yous at his Tuesday news conference. But thank you, Chad Greenway, for being a model of consistency on the field and a class act away from it. The shoes will be hard to fill.