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Q & A: Chad Greenway

Chad Greenway, NFL star linebacker, credits growing up on a farm for imparting in him a work ethic that has propelled the South Dakotan to all-pro status in the National Football League.

SF: How did growing up on a farm influence your career in the National Football League?

CG: My dad taught me that farming and being my own boss came with an obligation to get the work done on my own. I had to be self-motivated. Plus, he instilled in me a tremendous work ethic. I did it innately – work hard, that is – as a farm boy. 

Now, I know that to excel on the playing field I have to work doubly hard in practice, spending the hours to hone my abilities to provide an outstanding performance during a game. 

The thing is, I don’t think about the drive to work hard. It was bred into me growing up on a farm.

The other thing I learned from my father is to be a man of my word, to be honest, and to be authentic. 

It’s easy to take that for granted in farming, because it’s very much a part of that culture. 

My father taught me that being honest and meeting obligations would take me a long way in life.

SF: Was there a particular skill you learned on the farm that you utilize on the playing field?

CG: Actually, sorting hogs and cattle taught me a great deal about how to deal with players on the field. I know it sounds funny, but it’s true. I learned at an early age how to read an animal, anticipating its moves when sorting, for example. 

Being a linebacker, I use those skills watching where a back is heading, herding them to go in the direction I want them to go, and then taking an angle on them for the tackle.

It really has helped to work with farm animals to hone my football skills. 

Back on the farm, I spent a lot of time catching calves for tagging and giving shots. Now, I spend my time catching people. I’m not so sure catching calves was easier.


SF: Do you ever run into other farm boys on the field?

CG: There are quite a few of us in the NFL. I come across their stories while I’m preparing for an opposing team or just reading about athletes. 

When I discover another farm boy on an opposing team we’re going to play, I try to make it a point to go talk to him after the game – like two farmers talking across the fence. There definitely is camaraderie among farm kids in the NFL.

SF: Have you considered farming after your career is over?

CG: Actually, I’ve started buying farmland back home, which my father operates for me. I don’t have the time to farm it myself, as my homestead is so far from Minneapolis. Owning that land keeps me very involved with agriculture, though.

Whether I go back and farm, I don’t know about that. I will always be involved with farming, however.

SF: Your grandfather, Tom Greenway, is an ardent John Deere tractor collector. Has the collecting bug bitten you?

CG: Grandpa is something! He sure loves to talk about those Deeres. It’s like going out to a museum to see his collection. I don’t collect myself.

SF Bio || Chad Greenway

Name: Chad Greenway, starting linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings. 
Farm Background: Greenway grew up on a crop and livestock farm near Mt. Vernon, South Dakota, which is operated by his parents, Julie and Alan Greenway.
High School: Greenway played nine-man football for Mt. Vernon High School, where he led his team to back-to-back state titles as the quarterback.
COLLEGE: Playing all four years at the University of Iowa, where he started 38 of 45 games, Greenway earned All-Big Ten honors and ended his college years being named First Team All-American by Pro Football Weekly.
NFL CAREER: Selected 17th in the 2006 college draft, Greenway has started for the Vikings seven of the last eight years, leading his team in tackles each of the past six seasons. Greenway was named AP All-Pro in 2012 and earned Pro Bowl berths in 2011 and 2012. His teammates have honored Greenway by naming him the Vikings Defensive MVP three years in a row.
OFF THE FIELD: Recognized as the Vikings Community Man of the Year for his generosity and charity, Greenway is still active in the America Needs Farmers campaign associated with the University of Iowa football team. 
   Greenway is married to his college sweetheart, Jennifer. They have two daughters and, as of press time, have a third child on the way.

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