One of the biggest lessons Chris Greisen learned during his long football career is that you never know when or who you might make an impression upon.
So always be ready.
Greisen was a sophomore quarterback at Sturgeon Bay High School in the 1990s when he attended a football camp and, unbeknownst to him, caught the eye of a coach.
The coach, Eric Johnson, later watched Greisen and Sturgeon Bay play in the WIAA Division 3 state title game when Greisen was a senior in 1993. Johnson remembered seeing him two years earlier at that camp, so he gave tape of Greisen to the coaching staff at Northwest Missouri State.
Greisen was offered a scholarship to the school, beginning a career that included stops in the NFL, NFL Europe, the Arena Football League and the United Football League.
“Who knows what kid might stand out?” Greisen said. “If you don’t give these kids opportunities, things like that may never happen.”
Which is why Greisen is doing his part by holding a 7-on-7 tournament July 13 at Green Bay Notre Dame.
His expectation is to have 16 teams participating from area high schools, with each team playing at least four games. Pool play starts at 9 a.m. and the tournament at 1 p.m., and fans are welcome to attend. There will be full concessions throughout the day.
Greisen has heard from at least two college coaches who plan to attend.
Like a few others in the area, Greisen feels the 7-on-7 format has been lacking in the state and provides a great learning opportunity. The belief is the 7-on-7 game can, among others things, help quarterbacks develop more quickly because of a better understanding of the passing game.
It also is another opportunity to build a bond with receivers and other teammates in a competitive environment since the WIAA allows coaches and players just five contact days during the offseason.
“I think it’s just a win-win situation for everybody,” Greisen said. “I don’t want to better just one team. I want to better all the teams around here. When you do that, then the competition gets better and more colleges start coming around.
“A lot of kids would love to earn a scholarship to play this great game. I was blessed to be able to do that. It allowed me to go all the way to the NFL. I was able to be given an opportunity down at Northwest Missouri State, and I just want to give kids in an indirect fashion an opportunity to get better and achieve their dream.”
Greisen’s football dream appears to be complete.
He played for the Virginia Destroyers in the UFL in 2012 before the league was canceled after four games because of financial concerns. In the final game of the season, Greisen injured a shoulder, which still is not 100 percent.
The injury, along with salary cap implications, prevented him from joining the Dallas Cowboys during a recent OTA after the team was short a quarterback. Greisen was signed by the Cowboys toward the end of the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Greisen played three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals after being drafted in the seventh round in 1999. When he signed with the Cowboys in 2010, he had gone a remarkable eight years between NFL contracts after his practice squad stint with the Washington Redskins in 2002.
He also was one of the best quarterbacks during his time in the AFL, throwing for more than 15,000 yards and 300 touchdowns.
“I’m retired,” said Greisen, who will teach math and theology at Notre Dame this fall. “I had a number of arena teams call me, and I’ve done that. But I’m ready for the next phase of my life, being a husband, father, teacher, coach and all that good stuff.
“I have football out of me from a playing standpoint.”
Greisen will continue to run his quarterback academy, and he plans to return to coaching at some point in the future.
He has been an assistant coach at Notre Dame and Green Bay Southwest in the past and turned down an opportunity to be the co-offensive coordinator at Northwest Missouri State in 2005 because of family and a desire to keep playing.
“I love coaching,” Greisen said. “I feel that is one of the reasons the good Lord put me on Earth. We as coaches have an opportunity to help build these boys into men. Just like a carpenter will use a hammer to build a house, we as coaches can use football as a tool to build up young men.”