Lots of tears, laughs and memories were shared by Chad Greenway and across social media Tuesday when the Vikings linebacker announced his retirement after an 11-season career in Purple and Gold.
A number of news outlets have recapped Greenway's career and the hanging up of his cleats. One particular news site threw it all the way back to where it all began. The Argus Leader re-ran the original article from April 30, 2006, after Greenway was drafted by Minnesota. The story reads:
Greenway, the 17th overall pick, spent a low-key if somewhat maddening afternoon at the family farm watching ESPN while waiting for the biggest phone call of his life. After he got it, he did what a lot of folks do when they get some good news - he went to town.
'I know we got some Packer fans around here,' Greenway said as he greeted the crowd gathered at the Mount Vernon High School gym. 'But you're going to have to switch over. To be honest with you, you're all going to have get rid of that Packer crap.'
The joke got a big laugh from a crowd intent on giving their favorite son one giant hug before he left for the Twin Cities, where he was to meet with Minnesota media later in the evening.
'This doesn't happen to every small town in the world, but it happened to us,' Greenway said. 'I want to thank all of you for being behind me the whole way.'
The article goes on to recap the draft process that brought Greenway to the Vikings and the linebacker receiving a life-changing phone call, which originally failed because of poor reception on the family farm.
Greenway's father Alan, who passed away in 2014 after a courageous battle with cancer, is also quoted in the story:
"Chad wanted to go to a team in the Midwest because he's a Midwest kind of guy," said Alan Greenway, Chad's father. "It's been a very rewarding experience for us and for the town."
The story ends with one simple line that, in hindsight, seems absolutely fitting:
Brace yourself, Minneapolis: Here comes Mount Vernon.
What athletes will join Greenway in playing entire career in Minnesota?
It's a unique situation in which a professional athlete is able to spend his whole career with one team, and it's something Greenway has emphasized.
Michael Rand of the Star Tribune took at the club Greenway joined and which current Minnesota athletes could join that circle if they finish their careers here. Rand wrote:
As rare as it is, though, to find an athlete who spends an entire career with one team, Minnesota sports has had its share. Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek with the Twins immediately come to mind, as does Scott Studwell — another Vikings linebacker, like Greenway. There are more, of course.
Rand then listed current athletes who have spent 10-plus seasons with a Minnesota team, including Adrian Peterson, who is scheduled to become a free agent on Thursday. While Rand said it's questionable if Peterson will finish his career here, he finds it likely that Joe Mauer (Twins), Glen Perkins (Twins), Mikko Koivu (Wild) and Seimone Augustus (Lynx) will join Greenway in retiring after a one-club career.
Zach Line to open gym in West Michigan
After Vikings receiver Adam Thielen opened ETS Elite Thielen gym in Lakeville, Minnesota, last year, his friend and teammate Zach Line is bringing the franchise to his home state of Michigan.
During Polaris Vikings Winterfest in February, Thielen talked to Vikings.com about the gym and his partnership in the company with trainer Ryan Englebert, whom he's been working with since he trained for the NFL Scouting Combine.
"I think the biggest thing and the reason why I'm partnering with him is because I have so much faith and trust in him, and every offseason I've been able to see growth," Thielen said. "I've gotten better, faster and stronger and hit the goals that I want to hit, so I have a lot of faith and trust in him."
Thielen said a number of players – college and NFL – had been training at the gym with him and Englebert, and Line had been following the workouts from Michigan.
Line announced via social media that he and his wife, McKenzie, will be opening ETS Elite Line in the summer of 2017.