Sunday, February 1, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "chad greenway"

chad greenway

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(photo used with permission of the Cook family)

On January 7, 2015, Senior Airman Eli Cook passed away from injuries sustained in a car accident one week prior. He was 22 years old. This feature is dedicated to Eli’s memory, his family, and all those close to him.

(photo used with permission of the Cook family)
(photo used with permission of the Cook family)

The middle brother of eight children, Eli Cook was born into a Minnesota Vikings family on Sept. 11, 1992; his father Wayne says that Eli was a Vikings fan from Day One.

“Dad was always watching sports,” explained Eli’s brother Andrew, “and we would always watch with him.”

Eli especially enjoyed watching the Timberwolves and Vikings, and they soon became his favorite of Minnesota’s sports teams. He gained a reputation of being the most athletic in the family, and he often stood out because of his speed. As a middle- and junior-high school student, Eli played quarterback for his team in Wilmar, MN.

Like most sports fans, Eli had a competitive spirit both on and off the field. Friendly competition regularly brewed between the brothers at home, and that passionate edge also came into play when cheering for—and defending—their hometown team.

Being a member of the U.S. Air Force, Eli relocated outside of Minnesota and worked with men and women from all over the country. Wherever he was, though, he was quick to talk up the Vikings. An Air Force friend shared that Eli was a “hardcore trash talker,” constantly ribbing friends who supported rival teams. He was also known for always wearing his Chad Greenway jersey. Eli’s father explained that Eli chose the No. 52 jersey because he worked on a B52 airplane—something he was incredibly proud of. “That plane was his baby,” Andrew said.

Eli’s love for the purple and gold spoke strongly to his character, as Andrew described:

“When Eli left for the Air Force and lived in Texas and Louisiana, he embraced Minnesota sports even more than before—it was a source of pride for his home state. […] Eli had a lot of pride and showed a lot of passion for everything that he did and believed in—whether it was his Air Force career, friends and family, faith, or his roots.”

Amidst several personality differences that can only be expected between siblings, sports always brought the Cook family together. Some of the most treasured memories include those times of watching, talking about and playing sports together.

Photo Credit: Joe Lemke (used with permission)

Since being drafted No. 17 in the 2006 NFL Draft, Chad Greenway has been a Minnesota Viking.

In a Nov. 2012 interview, Greenway expressed that he hoped to play the entirety of his career in purple and gold:

“I certainly want to retire a Viking […] I’d love to just play it out here and be able to have an entire tenure in Minnesota.”

Two years later, Greenway’s leadership, comradery and positive attitude in the locker room continue to be an asset to the team; his contribution on the field upheld its reputation, as well. Greenway missed four games due to injuries this season; in the 12 that he started, however, the linebacker tallied 93 tackles. According to league stats, he leads the NFL since 2007, with 984 tackles.

Greenway’s loyalty to Minnesota and athleticism have not changed; but there is no denying that other things have—namely, younger, talented players making an impact on the roster. As the Vikings packed up their gear and prepared to head into the offseason, Greenway demonstrated no sense of urgency to clear out his locker.

For No. 52, there is some uncertainty if he will return to this locker room next season.

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Just two short weeks ago, while prioritizing my view on the offseason needs of the Minnesota Vikings, I placed inside linebacker at the top of the list and wrote this sentence:

Audie Cole and Michael Mauti have plenty of fan support, but it just seems like they are not destined for stardom.

Well, maybe I jumped the gun a little there.  Maybe, just maybe, I underestimated how much perception could change over the course of two (or one, really) NFL football game.

In Week Seventeen, against an uninspired and lackluster Chicago Bears team, Audie Cole filled in for Chad Greenway and the results were genuinely impressive.  In fact, I would personally go so far as to say Cole had one of the best linebacker performances we’ve seen since Antoine Winfield’s prime (I still stand by my assertion that Winfield was more linebacker than corner).

Cole received a higher game grade (+7.8) from Pro Football Focus than Greenway ever has in his career and, from what I can tell, is the highest grade given to a player of the same position all year.  That, to say the least, is a pretty impressive “next man up” effort.

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I’ve written a number of Adrian Peterson articles this week that ended up getting deleted forever.  To be honest, I’m kind of shell-shocked and am just going to try and push forward, for now.  I’m hoping you find that somewhat refreshing.

During today’s media circus at Winter Park, coach Mike Zimmer revealed that linebacker Chad Greenway has suffered a broken hand, and his status is in question.  Zimmer said he is hopeful that Greenway will be able to play.  I’d source this report with a link, but the press conference was aired on pretty much every channel on my TV, so take your pick.

Right tackle Phil Loadholt (ankle), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (groin), and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (shoulder) were also mentioned by Zimmer.  He seemed particularly optimistic that Rhodes and Floyd will be good to go for the upcoming game in New Orleans.

Photo courtesy of Jason Barum
Photo courtesy of Jason Barum

Vegas to Minneapolis to Mankato all in the matter of a few hours (Okay, maybe like six or seven). Running on an hour of sleep right now but there is no place I’d rather be.  I have to be honest with you… Standing on that field just a few feet away from all these incredible athletes was pretty surreal. Hard to be objective and analytical when you’re stuck just trying to take it all in.

Nevertheless, I did jot a few notes down (below). I’ll be back out on the field for the afternoon practice in just a few hours and will report back then. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, follow me on Twitter where I’ll be providing updates. Also, Arif’s Twitter List of training camp coverage is a great resource to be current with what’s going on. Plus, all those guys are pros. I’m just a rube who’s starstruck during his first training camp experience.

A couple of notes from the morning walk through:

  • Josh Robinson did not participate in the morning’s activities. Robinson was taken out of practice a couple of days ago as a precaution when dealing with a hamstring related injury. Defensive Coordinator George Edwards was unwilling to provide an update on the status of Robinson’s injury and deferred to Zimmer on the issue.

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