Former Iowa football star Chad Greenway sees a lot of himself in Josey Jewell

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — From one farm-raised Iowa Hawkeye linebacker to another, Chad Greenway paid Josey Jewell the ultimate compliment Friday.

“He’s obviously a team-oriented guy with the unique ability to play every snap,” Greenway said. “It seems like an arbitrary thing, but to play hard every snap of the entire game, you’re going to be better than a lot of people who are more talented than you. And he has that ability that I have to imagine is tied to his same upbringing that I had.”

Former Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway speaks about his induction into the America Needs Farmers Wall of Honor at Kinnick Stadium on Friday. Greenway recently finished an 11-year career with the Minnesota Vikings.

Greenway, 34, is in town as the seventh Hawkeye to join the America Needs Farmers Wall of Honor at Kinnick Stadium. He also will serve as Iowa’s honorary captain for Saturday’s game against No. 4 Penn State.

Greenway grew up on a farm in Mount Vernon, South Dakota, where few college scouts roamed. He became an all-American at Iowa and recently finished an 11-year career with the Minnesota Vikings.

Jewell was raised on a farm in Decorah, was also a low-profile high school athlete, and is now a senior star middle linebacker at Iowa, earning preseason all-American honors.

“As I’ve gotten to know Josey just a little bit, the thing that’s impressed me is just how he’s handled the success and the way it seems to me that he just keeps his mind focused on the correct things,” Greenway said at a news conference at Kinnick. “I think he’s going to have a great pro career, but we’re not worried about that yet.”

Other topics Greenway addressed:

His lifelong friendship with former Iowa teammate Abdul Hodge. Greenway cited Hawkeyes strength coach Chris Doyle as a major influence during his years in college (2002-05) and former safety Bob Sanders as an intense role model that shaped the way he played.

But it was Hodge, a middle linebacker and fellow communications major, that he bonded with the most, Greenway said.

“We were inseparable in college. We fed off each other and we made each other so much better because of how we competed,” Greenway said. “I didn’t want to let him get better than me and he didn’t want to let me get better than him. I’m just really upset he has more collegiate tackles than me (453 to 416). I can’t come back and fix that. He was better than me. He was incredible. I can say he was probably the one big factor of my success. Because it was him and I every day.”

Hodge is expected to be at Saturday’s game as well.

His well-planned retirement from the NFL. Greenway said he knew throughout the 2016 season that it was his last, and he walked away with no regrets after starting 144 games, making 1,334 tackles and earning two Pro Bowl berths.

“I wanted to be able to retire without having the regret of missing out on something or not giving everything that I had to the sport, to my family, to everybody that kind of put me in position to be in the NFL,” he said. “I really feel the draw to want to be back around the guys in that environment. But I don’t miss necessarily the game. I don’t even miss the competitions.”

The importance of spending time with his four children. Greenway and his wife, Jennifer, had their youngest child, Carsyn, in November, joining older siblings Maddyn, Beckett and Blakely. Greenway said he had thought about a broadcasting career.

“You hear from everybody how fast your kids grow up. And for me to be gone every weekend for 20 weeks going to NFL games, you just feel like you’d miss a lot. I don’t want to miss those moments. I’ll be with the kids as much as I can until they’re gone,” Greenway said.

“I love being on the radio, and I love talking football, and that’s something I’ll continue to do on the local level in the Twin Cities.”

And, of course, farming. Greenway noted that three generations of his family have been involved in the profession, which he walked away from at age 18 to come to Iowa.

“This award and this honor goes really deep — not only with me, but with my entire family into many generations,” he said. “I always talk about the things you learn from a farm that you can’t learn anywhere else. The teamwork … and you also learn a few special words.

“College was really easy, compared to work on the farm.”