Notebook: Chad Greenway applauds NFL's discipline against Saints
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Chad Greenway's reaction to the news that the New Orleans Saints defense and coordinator Gregg Williams had a bounty program in place from 2009 to 2011 might not have been what you would have expected.
"I think the easy reaction is to say, 'That's unbelievable and you can't believe it happens,'" Greenway, the Minnesota Vikings' Pro Bowl linebacker, said Thursday. "But you think back in the earlier NFL days, I'm sure this stuff was everywhere.
"But it's a culture change from what (commissioner) Roger Goodell and what the NFL has been trying to do from the perspective of, 'We want to protect our players for their long-term health, and their health while they're in the NFL.' So, to me, it was a little bit of immediate overreaction."
Nonetheless, Greenway said he thought Goodell made the right move by coming down hard on the Saints, suspending coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season and suspending Williams indefinitely. Williams is now the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams.
"I think you need to have them learn their lesson, and have it be a lesson to everybody else in the NFL that this is just not going to be happening," Greenway said. "Even though it may have been the culture 30 years ago, it's not the culture anymore and the game has changed a lot."
Asked about the suspensions at the NFL meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., this week, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said: "I'll tell you, what the league has done kind of speaks to how the league feels. The commissioner has made a statement. He's made a statement, and it's really not necessary for me to make any other statement. That was a statement."
Goodell's sanctions against the Saints were announced last week on the same day that the Vikings released nose tackle Remi Ayodele after one unsuccessful season. Vikings officials have said that the timing was a coincidence, but Ayodele was a member of the Saints defense in the 2009 NFC title game when Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was targeted.
Ayodele was involved in a high-low hit on Favre that left him lying on the turf with a badly sprained ankle and although Favre returned, the Vikings lost in overtime.
Vikings punter Chris Kluwe told 1500 ESPN that if Ayodele returned to the locker room in 2012 it might have been an issue, given that it's now known the Saints were after certain Vikings that day.
Frazier and Greenway, however, did not agree.
"That had nothing to do with why we decided to do what we did," Frazier said. "We never had a conversation about Remi's tenure in New Orleans during the time we played them. We wouldn't have signed him if that were an issue with us. So, that had nothing to do with what we're doing. Now, General Manager Kluwe? That's his opinion."
Added Greenway: "I'm speaking for myself, other people may have different opinions, but for me it's about that game, no matter what happens with the bounties and that system, it is what it is. If you have to go back and think about it, it just makes it worse.
"At no point are we going to get that win, no matter how long we sit and think about it. It doesn't really have anything to do with where we're going, so I don't know if it had anything to do with him being released or not, but I can't imagine it did."
Greenway also said he did not know anything about the Saints' bounty program until the story broke.
"I think the most disturbing thing is it really just seemed to follow one guy around the NFL," Greenway said, referring to Williams. "You look at the different teams who are now being talked about. Buffalo and Washington and New Orleans and obviously it followed one guy.
"So, to me, that's when people go off saying, 'This is something that happens in 50 percent of the locker rooms in the NFL,' it just simply is not true from my knowledge. Obviously, I don't know every team and how the culture is, but I do know it is not as rampant as people think it is, and as far as the investigation goes, it's followed one man around the league."
Love for Claiborne
Frazier did nothing to dispel recent speculation the Vikings may consider selecting LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with the No. 3 overall pick in next month's draft.
"We like him. We like him a lot," Frazier said. "We were at his (pro day) workout last week, and he was very impressive. Did a great job. He's a guy that is worthy of consideration at that point for sure."
Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil remains the favorite for the pick, but the Vikings have recently scouted Claiborne and Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon as well.
Asked whether it's more important to give second-year quarterback Christian Ponder help at left tackle or receiver, Frazier laughed and indirectly inserted Claiborne into the discussion again.
"Now the fact that we've got the third pick in the draft -- that could be a loaded question," Frazier said. "They all three are extremely important to your quarterback's success. If you can defend the pass, get the ball back to our offense. If you draft a left tackle, you're going to provide better protection for our quarterback. If you draft a wide receiver, now you've got a chance to add another weapon for him at quarterback.
"So, they all three are -- especially if they're game-changing -- vitally important to the quarterback."
Greenway and his wife, Jenni, spent Thursday afternoon at the University of Minnesota's Amplatz Children's Hospital launching a program called "Chad's Locker."
The locker, which comes from Greenway's Lead the Way Foundation, provides the chronically and critically ill children and their families with access to iPads, notebook computers, DVD players, Xbox game systems and other electronic games.
"I think it's an idea that came from Jenni and myself and just, 'How can we help in something that hasn't been there or already been done,'" Greenway said. "Just trying to do something different. That's why I'm glad at least a foundation board member (was here).
"That's where the idea really started going was at a board meeting, and trying to think of different ways that we could help in the hospitals that maybe hasn't been done before. ... It's great to see it happen in like a year-and-a-half from when it was kind of kicked around."
Greenway said he is hoping to put lockers in as many hospitals as possible in the Twin Cities.
"It's something that when we're in the position that we're in right now, and just to have access to different things and different people, it's great to be able to use that for good and to volunteer," Greenway said. "More than anything is just to give your time and to be able to do those things.
"Whether you do a hospital visit or something, it does more good for me than probably the children, but it's something that if it's going to put a smile on their face because they meet a linebacker from the Vikings, I definitely want to do that as much as possible."
The Vikings finally filed four contracts that were completed over the past week, clarifying the base salaries for linebacker Erin Henderson ($1.45 million), receiver Devin Aromashodu ($700,000), cornerback Zackary Bowman ($615,000) and offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz ($550,000).
Henderson's deal is worth up to $2 million. Schwartz's deal included a $150,000 bonus and is worth up to $1.5 million. Bowman's deal reportedly included no guarantees. It's unknown if Aromashodu received a bonus.
Before those deals were filed, the Vikings were $13.2 million under their adjusted salary cap.
• Frazier intends to have live tackling in training camp, although the frequency of padded practices are reduced from years past because of the new CBA's rules. "Contact is very limited," Frazier said. "But when you get your spots, you've got to try to take advantage of it. You're always conscious of injuries because of the limited roster size. But we'll definitely try to work some tackling drills."
• Teams have yet to get final word on how many players they can take to training camp, Frazier said. That's because the NFL still must discuss the matter with the players' association.