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With career choice looming, Vikings' Greenway cherishes season's final game

MINNEAPOLIS - When Chad Greenway got up to go to U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday morning, he made it a point to cherish every moment, to soak it all in.In his 156th and possibly final game in the National Football League as a linebacker for the Minnesot...

Minnesota Vikings' Chad Greenway (52) and Chicago Bears' Willie Young (97) greet each other at the conclusion of their final regular season game on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (Matt Gade / Forum News Service)
Minnesota Vikings' Chad Greenway (52) and Chicago Bears' Willie Young (97) greet each other at the conclusion of their final regular season game on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (Matt Gade / Forum News Service)
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MINNEAPOLIS - When Chad Greenway got up to go to U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday morning, he made it a point to cherish every moment, to soak it all in.

In his 156th and possibly final game in the National Football League as a linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings, the Mount Vernon, S.D., native did just that.

He made a point to take an extra moment with the players' parking lot attendant and the security guards. When it was time to introduce the Vikings defense, the team had Greenway go last and instead of running "as fast as I can," he took an extra moment in the end zone to acknowledge the crowd of 66,808 before running out onto the field.

The same was the case in the final minutes of the team's 38-10 win, when the stadium videoboard showed him on the sideline and Greenway waved his arms to pump up the crowd and punctuated the moment with one of his trademarked karate kicks to the air. In the locker room following the contest, he was awarded the ceremonial game ball.

"For me, it was a day I tried to catalogue from the time I got up until right now and I enjoyed every minute of it, which was my goal from the very start," Greenway said in a postgame news conference with media members. "My plan was to enjoy every minute of this season and let the chips fall where they may and make a decision in a few weeks and that's what I'm going to do. I can tell you that I enjoyed every minute of it."

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The 33-year-old Greenway took it all in, saying again that he will sit down with his wife and family in a few weeks about whether to continue his 11-year pro career but at the same time acknowledging that his time might be over in the NFL.

Greenway was reflective Sunday and appreciative of his time in the NFL and the fact that he will be making the call on whether his career ends.

"There's no coming back in this league. It's final, so I want it to be on my terms," he said.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer sang the praises of the team's starting weak-side linebacker and called Greenway a true professional.

"He's a leader in the community, a leader on the field," Zimmer said. "He's a tremendous competitor. he's a guy that truly will always be one of my best guys."

But the coach was a bit testy regarding the future of Greenway or others, saying he didn't want to get into the "what if" stuff regarding who might be back next season.

If that's the final game of Greenway's career, it will be a memorable one, as the Vikings dominated the Bears and forced five turnovers. It's the most the Vikings could do Sunday, a week after being eliminated from playoff contention, finishing the season at 8-8.

Greenway finished the game with two tackles, including one on the defense's opening drive against the Bears. He has the fourth-most tackles in Vikings' history with more than 1,300 stops.

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Greenway, who will turn 34 on Jan. 12, said that he won't let the team's promise or potential enter into his decision, something that he said he did consider prior to signing a one-year deal with the team April.

"I'm just in a different place right now," he said. "I'm glad I've put myself in this position to be able to control this part of my career."

The linebacker said season has let him appreciate his teammates and coaches, and considering a league where there's large amounts of roster turnover each year, he's stayed a Viking.

"To not be one of those guys over 11 years, that means a lot to me," he said.

Regardless of what happens and what decision Greenway makes, he will have Sunday as a day to remember forever.

"I was happy I got that moment," he said. "If I don't get another moment on the U.S. Bank Stadium field, I got that moment."

The Greenway file

• Mount Vernon native

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• 17th overall pick by Minnesota in 2006 NFL Draft out of Iowa

• 11 NFL seasons (all with Vikings)

• 156 games (144 starts)

• 1332 tackles (prior to Sunday's game, fourth-most in Vikings history)

• 11 interceptions

• Eight forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries

• Two defensive touchdowns

• 18 career sacks

• Two Pro Bowl selections (2011, 2012)

• Second team Associated Press All-Pro in 2012

Source: pro-football-reference.com

Related Topics: FOOTBALLMOUNT VERNON
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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