Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
When linebacker Chad Greenway announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday, he made sure to thank all of his previous and current coaches - from high school all the way to the pros. The former first-round draft pick began with his most recent and one of his most respected head coaches, Mike Zimmer.
"Coach when you came here a couple of years ago, it was perfect timing for me. It was a time to challenge me in different ways," Greenway told Zimmer. "I was in my ninth season and challenged me at the time to bring new ideas and that certainly happened."
Greenway was drafted back in 2006 however Zimmer did not come to Minnesota until 2014 when he took over head coaching duties from Leslie Frazier. From then on, Zimmer and Greenway have always had a deep and profound respect for one another and that was strengthened through the game of football.
In many ways, the bond was strengthened even more the past two seasons with Greenway accepting a reduced role to allow younger guys playing time and development. With so many players around the league scoffing at such an idea, Greenway embraced it, becoming more of a teacher and mentor while still making huge plays when his number was called.
That is a credit to the coach and the person that Mike Zimmer is.
"Zim's mentality and the way he carries himself is something that I respect wholeheartedly," Greenway said. "He's the same person every day, and he's one hell of a football coach and he's the right coach for this football team and organization. I'm so excited that he's here, I'm so happy that I got a chance to play for him and it was truly an honor."
Zimmer shared a similar respect and admiration for the former Vikings linebacker when he originally introduced Greenway.
"Chad, for the three years that I've been here, has been a tremendous help to me, to this team and this organization," Zimmer said. "Anytime I had any kind of message with this football team or the organization, he was always there to sell it and help in any way possible."
Zimmer joked that he wished he would have received the chance to coach Greenway when the linebacker was younger but then quickly corrected himself saying, "Actually, when we were both younger, right?"
Known as a bit of a defensive guru, Zimmer coached Greenway to the best of his abilities and knowledge, and Greenway said that he learned more about defense in the last three years under Zimmer then he knew in his entire life.
While their time as player and coach have now come to an end, Zimmer said he will remember the great qualities that Greenway brought to the team and said that Greenway's retirement is a bittersweet moment for him.
"He was a guy you could lean on an awful lot in the locker room. He was a guy that would come in and talk to you a lot about things that are going on throughout the course of the football team," Zimmer said. "Chad is a true Viking. He's going to fit in tremendously with all these other great Vikings that are up here right now and great coaching legends. I'm sorry to see you go but I'm happy for you for the time that you have in the future."
A simple yet classy send-off from a head coach to his player.