KANSAS CITY — With driving sheets of puffy snow transformed the American midwest into a wild, winter wonderland, Cory Greenwood almost feels like he is back in his hometown of Kingston again.
“Did you know that I used to carry Don Cherry’s groceries?” Greenwood asks a visiting sports columnist from Canada who had come here to cover the NFL wildcard game between his Kansas City Chiefs and the visiting Baltimore Ravens.
Forget about the fact that Greenwood was just on the same field as future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. No big deal. You want to talk about a REAL brush with fame? Try being a kid of 13 or 14 carting Grapes’ milk and eggs to his car. Now THAT’s fame.
“He has a place on Wolfe Island and I worked there at a place called Fargo’s General Store when I was younger,” Greenwood reminisces. “He used to come in there. It was neat.”
All these boyhood memories brings a smile to Greenwood’s face, a rare sight in a Chiefs locker room where grins are about as rare as a Matt Cassel completion.
It is Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs have just been thrashed 30-7 by the Baltimore Ravens. Inside the Chiefs room, there are plenty of long faces, none more than that belonging to Cassel, who had connected on only nine passes for 70 yards and three picks.
As he cleans out his locker, Greenwood, a special teams expert, wonders if he’ll be back inside these walls next season. He wants to be a Chief again. But the ultimate decision is out of his hands.
“That’s my first choice for sure, but who knows what is going to happen?” he wonders. “My contract is up. I did my best. Now it’s up to them.
“It’s been a wild year. At the beginning, I didn’t know how long I would be here. I mean, here I was, an undrafted Canadian getting a tryout in the NFL.
“After a couple of games, my confidence started to build. I just worked as hard as I could on special teams.”
To use Greenwood’s own word, it really has been a “wild” ride.
As a kid, Greenwood was like so many other boys growing up in Canada, loving the game of hockey and following hometown heroes like Doug Gilmour and Kirk Muller.
But by the eighth grade, Greenwood, a defenceman, realized he was not big enough to compete at the sport’s highest level. So, he converted to football.
By the end of the 2009 season, Greenwood, who had sprouted into a 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker with the Concordia Stingers, captured the Presidents’ trophy as the top stand-up defensive player in CIS football. The Toronto Argonauts certainly were impressed, picking him third overall in the 2010 CFL draft.
But before any commitment was made to the CFL, the Chiefs brought him in for a workout. The reality of the situation quickly struck Greenwood when he was seated beside rookie safety Eric Berry, the Chiefs first round pick, on a flight into Kansas City.
“From that point on, I just took it week to week,” he says. “I just tried to get better.”
There are times, he admits, when he is still in disbelief as he stands in the gridiron cathedrals that are the massive stadiums of the NFL. But once the ball is kicked, it’s just football, albeit football at it’s highest level.
Whether the Chiefs re-sign him or not, Greenwood knows one thing: The NFL is where he wants to be.
“I think the Argos are a fine organization and the CFL is a great league,” Greenwood said. “But once you’ve had a taste of the best, which the NFL is, well, you want to stay.”
Don’t be offended, Grapes. That goes for you too, Argos. In the case of Cory Greenwood, he’s just a good Canadian boy pursuing the Great American Dream.