“It all feels surreal,” Thomas Greaney admitted as he figuratively fastened his seatbelt for one of the most important weekends of his life.
The six-foot-six, 255-pound tight end, a December graduate of the University at Albany, has a realistic chance of being selected in the sixth or seventh round of the annual National Football League draft. Player selection begins Thursday evening; the later rounds are scheduled for Saturday.
“There are a lot of nerves, a lot of excitement. I’m eager to see how this weekend goes, and I’m excited to spend it with family and friends,” he said in an interview this week.
Whatever the outcome, Greaney, son of Chris and Bob Greaney, said he has a different perspective than that of most college athletes. He will be watching the televised NFL draft in Bedford with his three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Charlotte.
“When my daughter was born, it changed how I saw everything,” Greaney explained. “Before, I kind of lived and died on every play, and that got into my head a lot.” But he discovered that Charlotte “was just as happy even if I had the worst day of football. She was just happy to have her dad home. That allowed me to play the game free and relaxed, which is when I’m at my best.”
Greaney said he and Amanda Cohen are “co-parenting,” but he emphasized that Amanda “has pretty much had to raise Charlotte by herself. Amanda has sacrificed a lot in every way for me to follow my dream. She is the best mother anyone could ask for and I’m very blessed to have her in my life.”
Competitive sports have been a central part of Greaney’s agenda “since [he] was born.” He played Recreation Department basketball in elementary school, and moved from Lexington-Bedford-Hanscom Pop Warner to freshman football at Bedford High. His two seasons of BHS varsity football included quarterback in 2015, and he was also one of the leaders on the varsity basketball team.
Greaney’s twin brother Daniel, now training to qualify as a Navy SEAL, was a BHS football teammate, and also won a state wrestling championship in 2017. Joseph Greaney, two years younger, is a defensive lineman at Albany. Their older sister Alaina, BHS Class of 2014, and their younger sister Marina, a BHS senior, both lettered in varsity basketball.
When Thomas Greaney transferred to Lawrence Academy in Groton, he converted to safety and tight end. As a prospect, Albany was the only major football program that was interested, Greaney said, but “it couldn’t have worked out any better.”
His breakout season for the Great Danes was last fall, catching 50 passes for 693 yards and nine touchdowns. Greaney was the Colonial Athletic Association most valuable player and, more significantly, was named to a national all-star team, the venerable East-West Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas.
He was also honored as a member of various all-star teams, such as the All-American second team, Football Conference Subdivision, by Phil Steele, who is considered by many as the country’s most influential source of college football information.
Google “Thomas Greaney tight end” and you’ll find his name and football data on all the draft websites. One team’s scouting report labeled him “perhaps the biggest diamond in the rough in the draft class this season.”
Albany Offensive Coordinator Jared Ambrose was instrumental in his transformation, Greaney said, along with Nate Byham, the team’s former tight ends coach now at Stanford. But he added he also has been shaped by many of his youth coaches, including not only his father, who played intercollegiate football at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, but also Bob Shelmire, Jim Eliason, and the late Dave Timperio.
And Greaney has special praise for his former varsity basketball and assistant football coach, Vin McGrath, who teaches at John Glenn Middle School. “He was such a big influence, always able to get the best out of me. He taught us how to be a team, how to stay together, how to compete. I can’t say enough good things about Coach McGrath.”
Greaney is represented by a certified sports agent, Nate Richman and his firm 3XL Sports Management of Scituate. “I started getting calls in early June from agents, and I wanted to go with someone who wanted to do right by me and put me in the best position to make it to the NFL,” he said.
Richman, who has two degrees from Boston College, met with Greaney and his father at Starbucks in Bedford, and “now I talk to him pretty much every day.”
If the seventh round closes and he doesn’t hear his name, Greaney said there are still promising scenarios. “I’m hearing from a lot of teams about priority free agents,” which means that as an undrafted player, “You get to pick your destination,” ideally a program “where you can learn and develop and have a good chance of making the team.”
He is also equipped for life after football with a degree in human development. Greaney said he eventually hopes to be a teacher of students with special needs. He also feels fortunate to be in good health.
“I think I had one concussion at Albany. I’ve been good at not getting injured, although it’s luck more than anything. But you make sure your body is in great shape so you can endure the rigors of the football season.”
Greaney said he has driven the 350-mile round-trip between Albany and Bedford many times since Charlotte was born on Sept. 28, 2019.
“On Sunday, the day after a game, we watched a lot of film. I’d leave Albany around 5:30 and get home in time to put her to bed, and spend Monday with her. Those drives on the Mass Pike became sacred to me.”
As the primary caregiver, Amanda is “like a superwoman,” Greaney said.
And he hopes that his success in football will prove to his daughter that “everything can come out well if you work hard for it.” He added, “I just want to make her proud.”