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Farm life molded Greenway on football field

Mount Vernon native and former Minnesota Viking linebacker Chad Greenway shows off the Pioneer Seed Corn logo on his shirt while speaking on Tuesday at Dakotafest in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)1 / 3
Mount Vernon native and former Minnesota Viking linebacker Chad Greenway hugs his grandfather Tom Greenway while signing autographs and taking photos of fans following a talk on Tuesday at Dakotafest. (Matt Gade / Republic)2 / 3
Mount Vernon native and former Minnesota Viking linebacker Chad Greenway speaks on Tuesday at Dakotafest. (Matt Gade / Republic)3 / 3

Chad Greenway is about family, football and farming.

The retired NFL linebacker grew up on his parents' farm outside of Mount Vernon, which is where his hard-working attitude began.

"I got to grow up in Mount Vernon and on a farm and learn all the values and hard work and what it takes to really be successful," Greenway said to a large gathering of people on Tuesday at Dakotafest in Mitchell.

He was certainly successful on the football field. After an all-state football career at Stickney/Mount Vernon, Greenway starred at the University of Iowa and later enjoyed an 11-year career with the Minnesota Vikings.

And he used his farming mentality on the gridiron. On Tuesday, Greenway talked about his days on the farm working cattle (his favorite farming activity) and loading pigs (his least favorite).

But it all translated onto the football field and how he had to come to work every day.

"I had the advantage from the farm upbringing to realize that it's not about doing it one day," Greenway said. "It's about doing it day after day after day."

Now, Greenway is sticking with the same approach. Greenway retired after the 2016 season, but he's staying busy away from the NFL. He is a spokesman for Pioneer Seed, which is what brought him to Dakotafest on Tuesday and also closer to family and friends.

"They have been great for me just because they have kind of got me back in the industry and it's been fun talk about farming," Greenway said. "It's been fun working with them, marketing and helping them with their product. ... It's fun for me to obviously come here because it's so close to home."

Greenway also leads the Chad Greenway Lead the Way Foundation. The foundation has three signature programs that he supports and that have impacted the lives of more than 375,000 people:

• TendHER Heart Luncheon: A luncheon that honors mothers of chronically and critically ill children for the sacrifices they make in caring for their ill children.

• Field of Dreams: The program was established to present critically and chronically ill children and their families with magical memories by fulfilling sports wishes and vacation dreams.

• Chad's Locker: The program provides patients and their families access to computers, movies and video games systems to occupy their time in the hospital.

Chad's Locker is in eight different hospitals around the Minneapolis-metro area and in South Dakota. The latest one will open in Iowa City, Iowa, next weekend.

"My wife (Jennifer) is an Iowa grad as well," Greenway said. "So Iowa City is an important part of our lives. So for us to be able to achieve our ninth locker in 10 years and making an impact on a lot of different people's lives. ... I am really proud of that."

He's also done some work with Sanford Health in Sioux Falls and he has some ownership in a new adult beverage: Gray Duck Vodka. He said the vodka will be making its debut in South Dakota in the next couple of weeks.

Greenway's four daughters are also active and he's staying busy attending their different events.

"A lot of soccer games and basketball games," Greenway said.

As for the future, Greenway hinted at possibly getting back into football.

"I think down the road it would be fun to get back into in some degree," he said. "Whether as a consultant or whether you are helping the young guys coming in. Maybe you are working with the (general manager) or in player personnel, but I need to take a few years."

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