MANKATO, Minn. – **Today marks 3,650 days since Chad Greenway reported for his first Vikings Training Camp.
This afternoon, Greenway will take the practice field at Minnesota State University, Mankato to kick off what many believe will be his final NFL season.
"I'm just trying to enjoy every day, honestly," Greenway told media yesterday. "I've certainly enjoyed every minute of it and want to enjoy this year, but it's not about enjoying it. It's only fun when you're winning.
"I'm here to play football and play as well as I can play and put my best foot forward," Greenway added.
When the linebacker reported for camp in 2006, shortly after the Vikings selected him 17th overall, he and his wife, Jenni, had been married less than a month. Now, the two have three daughters – 9, 6 and 21 months – with a fourth on the way.
"You really do need training camp to kind of flip out of summer gear and into football gear. It gets so hard to leave the family," Greenway said. "This is what I do for a living, but this time leaving them is hard."
A couple of visits from Jenni and the girls can be expected, of course. There's been a Greenway fan section on the sidelines of countless training camp practices, and they'll return again to see No. 52 into his 11th season.
Greenway is ready to go and said he's excited for what the 2016 season has in store.
"I thought I built a nice season last year with the change in roles that I had," Greenway said. "I want to continue to push that way and be a leader and lean on my experience, but also you've got to play and play well. That's what I'm focused on."
Greenway, who recorded 86 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a highlight-reel 91-yard interception return for a touchdown in 2015, embraced his responsibilities – slightly diminished on the field but even important in the locker room – because he trusts in Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and the mentality he's instilled in his team.
"This team is made up of [a lot of hard work]. I think it's very blue collar," Greenway said. "We have a ton of really hard workers on these team, myself included. I think with that mentality, especially starting with the head coach coming down to the players, we just can't forget who we are.
"Everybody is so excited for our season and what could be, but none of that happens without us going to work and being who we are," he added.
Coming off a season in which the Vikings went 11-5, took home an NFC North championship and hosted a Wild Card playoff game, Greenway said the expectations are high. He's intentional about tempering that hype. He uses it for motivation, but the veteran is also careful to remember that 2016 is a new season, and the Vikings are starting with a blank slate.
"Not getting too far over your skis," Greenway said. "Your mentality, it's really about a one-day, one-step approach."
Even with last year's successes, Greenway keeps things in perspective and said there are still a number of ways the team can improve, and he aims to keep that as his focus as he starts his 11th training camp in Mankato. He said it's a responsibility he takes seriously – to "just keep your foot on the gas pedal and keep working."
This isn't Greenway's first rodeo, but some believe it could be his last. At the end of the day, however, the linebacker's mentality when he takes the field today is no different than it was 10 years ago.
"Yes, it's a little bit nostalgic for things, could be the last time," Greenway said. "It's really about coming down here and playing good football and helping this team win games."