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Greenway embracing more leadership

Minnesota Vikings linebacker and Mount Vernon native Chad Greenway catches the ball Friday during the Hy-Vee/Sanford Legends Sports Clinics at Kirkeby-Over Stadium in Sioux Falls. Also pictured is Jace Schrick, back left, of Rock Rapids, Iowa. (Brooke Cersosimo/Republic)

SIOUX FALLS -- He's a leader, an opportunist and a veteran.

Chad Greenway is soon to begin his ninth season in the NFL, all of which have been with the Minnesota Vikings.

The Mount Vernon native has nearly seen it all in his professional career, and as the 31-year-old continues the second half of his NFL career, the linebacker's focus hasn't waivered.

This season, Greenway -- drafted by Minnesota in 2006 -- will be the longest-tenured player on the Vikings' roster. That happened when former Vikings defensive lineman Kevin Williams, drafted in 2003 by Minnesota, signed a deal Thursday with the Seattle Seahawks.

"The reality is you've got to take it one year at a time," Greenway said Friday at the Hy-Vee/Sanford Legends Sports Clinics at Kirkeby-Over Stadium in Sioux Falls, "but you have to have a master plan going down the road.

"I know I'm locked in for one more year here, and I have another year on my contract left and we'll see where that goes next offseason. But I'd love to play 10 or 11 years. I'd love to get to double digits and see where it takes me."

Greenway has undoubtedly earned his title of being a leader.

He has led the team in tackles for the past six seasons, tying a franchise record with Scott Studwell, despite playing through a broken left wrist for part of last season.

But the team he'll return to this year will have a new look to it. With the addition of two first-round draft picks and a new head coach this season, the Vikings will look at Greenway to lead the team back to the playoffs after a disappointing 5-10-1 season in 2013.

Greenway will be working closely with newly drafted Viking linebacker Anthony Barr, saying he sees potential in the rookie from UCLA.

"There are a lot of experiences I can throw onto them and help them in certain situations," Greenway said of Barr and fellow rookie Teddy Bridgewater, a quarterback the Vikings selected late in the first round. "They're good kids and ready to play and help us, but you remember they're just 22-year-old kids coming into the league. I think back to when I was 22 years old and it seems crazy."

In March, Greenway's contract was renegotiated with Minnesota. He took a $1 million pay cut, and the Vikings guaranteed his entire $5.5 million base salary in return for accepting the deal.

Greenway said he's not feeling pressure to play a certain number of years in the NFL, but one thing has eluded him.

"I've reached a lot of goals that I had in mind, now I just want to win the Super Bowl, obviously," he said. "So, we're hoping we can do that in Minnesota."

Blessed to give back

Greenway has made what has come to be a regular appearance at Legends free football clinic, which was Friday in Sioux Falls. He's proud to be a part of Legends each year and to give kids an opportunity to improve their skills and meet their idols. Other celebrities at Legends this year are Christian Laettner (basketball), Terrell Davis (football), Hunter Kemper (Olympic triathlete), Hall of Fame baseball player Dave Winfield and Mitchell native and Memphis Grizzlies player Mike Miller, who will be at the free basketball clinic from 9 to 11 a.m. today at the Sanford Pentagon.

"As a kid, I didn't have this opportunity," Greenway said. "These kids come and don't really know what to expect. We have to help them understand the opportunities they've been given here, to take it and have as much fun with it as they can."

Greenway is also hosting a free football clinic July 1 in Mount Vernon. After a two-year hiatus from hosting a camp in the Mitchell area, he is excited about being back home.

"I'm so very proud to have a football clinic back in Mount Vernon this year," he said. "We had a great time using Mitchell's facilities and all the great things Mitchell can provide, but we're moving over to my hometown and I couldn't be more excited about it."

The free clinic is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 1 at Mount Vernon High School. The clinic is for kids grades three through 12, with registration opening from 7 to 8 a.m. prior to the clinic's start.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.