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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – Chad Greenway did his best Superman impression this week.
For his next feat, Greenway could further endear himself to new Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer by figuring out how to clone himself.
"If we had 90 of those kinds of guys we would really be good," Zimmer said.
The world wouldn't be any worse off, either.
Greenway grabbed some headlines on a windy Monday at a popular Twin Cities area lake when he spotted an anxious couple trying to keep their malfunctioning boat from slamming into the rocks or tumbling over a nearby spillway. So Greenway hopped in the knee-deep water and pulled them a safer spot. He then waited with them for the arrival of the sheriff's patrol, which he also helped avoid getting stuck in a precarious place.
"They had control of the boat, but we had to just help them pull it away," Greenway said.
NBC affiliate KARE just happened to be filming a story on high water levels for that night's TV newscast and documented Greenway's gracious act on Lake Minnetonka. That, coincidentally, is where a group of rowdy Vikings players once generated news of another kind following that infamous bawdy boat party in 2005.
Greenway, who turned 31 in January, has become the second-longest tenured player on the Vikings, eight years after they drafted him in the first round out of Iowa. That pick has more than paid for itself with his durability and production, but there's a problem in the NFL is once a player's age starts with a 3 instead of a 2. Only quarterbacks and specialists are mostly immune to the league-wide preference toward younger, cheaper players who haven't hit their physical peak.
Greenway, whose performance suffered last season while playing through a broken left wrist, agreed to restructure his contract in the offseason with a $1 million pay cut in exchange for a fully guaranteed $5.5 million in salary. He could prove to be a valuable cog for Zimmer in an unproven group of linebackers, but beyond 2014 his future is unclear. Greenway has one year left on his deal, but if he's no longer at Pro Bowl level there would be little disincentive for the Vikings to cut him next offseason.
So in the meantime, Greenway has been busy soaking up Zimmer's system. He said he's been carrying his iPad around with him constantly and that this year has been the most he's ever studied in his entire career.
"I like that. I do. It's important to him. That's why he has been a good player for a long, long time, because it's important to him," Zimmer said.
Said Greenway: "They're getting their point across right away with the type of people they want on this team, type of people they want in this building and the mentality we should take while we're in this building. I think once you get the point across early, you set a foundation for what you want to create during the season."
In Zimmer's scheme, Greenway will be the weak side linebacker. First-round draft pick Anthony Barr is in line to be the strong side starter. Jasper Brinkley, Audie Cole and Michael Mauti are in the mix at the middle spot. But the coaches will move players around in certain situations in ways that will be different than the previous system under coach Leslie Frazier. Greenway, then, could find wind up playing more than one position.
"He's a good guy. He's smart. He's very conscientious. He's a pro's pro. He should fit in very well," Zimmer said.
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