During the fourth quarter of the Vikings matchup against the St. Louis Rams in Week 9, Minnesota linebacker Audie Cole attempted to tackle Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley. Cole did not make the tackle and that play would be his last of the season with the Vikings.
Cole fractured his ankle during the play when his Minnesota teammate Chad Greenway landed on it after being pushed by a St. Louis blocker. The Vikings, who were already without rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks due to a rib injury, had to quickly figure out who would fill Cole’s vacant spot in the lineup.
Having never played middle linebacker in his ten year career in Minnesota, Greenway seemed like the perfect solution. Wait, what?
However, when his name was called, Greenway did not hesitate for a second and gladly filled in for Cole at middle linebacker for the remainder of the game. This ‘team first’ mentality is the kind that Greenway has worn on his sleeve throughout the 2015 season.
He knows that he is not the player that he once was for the Vikings, but he is doing whatever he can this year to help the team succeed. Even if it means playing less snaps or playing in new positions, Greenway’s unselfishness has helped propel Minnesota to an 8-3 record through 12 weeks of the season.
With the emergence of younger players like Kendricks and fellow linebacker Anthony Barr, Greenway has seen a significantly lower amount of snaps on defense than has during his entire career. But that has not stopped him from making the most of his opportunities.
Just ask San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
Rivers threw a pass during a Week Three matchup between the Vikings and Chargers that was intended for San Diego wide receiver Stevie Johnson. However, instead of catching it, Johnson tipped the ball in the air and the ball ended up landing right in the hands of Greenway.
91 yards later, Greenway was in the endzone for the second time in his career and the first time since his rookie season in 2007. Although he only played 19 snaps on defense against the Chargers, that is all he needed to make an impact during the game.
Greenway’s impact in 2015 has also been felt in places where no football fields can be found. His Lead the Way Foundation has raised millions of dollars and has helped many young children and their families have experiences they may not have been able to even dream of.
Through various programs like the Field of Dreams or Chad’s Locker, Greenway’s foundation has affected more than 350,000 people in the state of Minnesota. Greenway’s efforts to help others in need are refreshing given the negative headlines generated recently by other NFL players.
The work he and his foundation have done has not gone unnoticed. For the third time in his career, Greenway has been given the honor of being named this year’s Vikings Community Man of the Year.
With the honor, Greenway is also one of 32 nominees for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award. This particular award is given to an NFL player who not only exhibits excellence on the field, but off the field as well. The winner will be announced on February 6th, 2016 during the NFL Honors awards show.
In order to get fans more involved in recognizing the this year’s nominees, the NFL has created the ‘Charity Challenge’. Each of the 32 nominees is given a unique hashtag and fans are able to choose who they want to support by using the player’s hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Google+.
From now until December 31st, the player whose hashtag is used the most on social media during this time period will be given $20,000 as a donation to that player’s charity.
For Vikings fans who want to help Greenway achieve this donation, all they have to do is use the hashtag #GREENWAYWPMOYCHALLENGE in a tweet or a post. It really is that simple to help support a great cause.
In what could possibly be his last season in Minnesota, what better way to end Greenway’s journey than by him winning the Walter Payton Man of the Year award? Ok, well maybe a Vikings Super Bowl win might be a little better.
Just a little.