After four years as a linebacker for the Colgate Raiders — including a memorable senior year game where his 20 tackles against Army were singled out by the New York Times — Greg Manusky ’87 graduated on a high.
That year, the Associated Press awarded him a place on its First-Team Division I-AA All- American, and he was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. A two-time recipient of Colgate’s Hal W. Lahar Trophy, awarded annually to the most valuable defensive player, Manusky graduated with a dual degree in geology and education. He was pumped to reach for a spot on an NFL team.
He’d get there — eventually playing 12 years in the league before aging out into a series of coaching positions — but the trajectory from college star to pro baller wasn’t as seamless as he thought it would be.
“I wasn’t drafted by anyone after 12 rounds, and I was heartbroken,” recalls Manusky, who is now the inside linebacker coach for the Minnesota Vikings. “I wanted to play off of the success at Colgate, and I wanted that same feeling of being part of a team.” The disappointment only made him more determined to work harder, he adds, and within the year the Washington Redskins (now Commanders) picked him up as a free agent.
Manusky spent three seasons with Washington then joined the Minnesota Vikings (1991–93) and the Kansas City Chiefs (1994–99). He became known for his colorful hairstyles (most often a mohawk) and equally colorful language. As he matured, “people in my profession began telling me that I was a smart player,” he says. “They’d predict I’d be coaching in the league one day.” They were right. Manusky eventually moved into coaching, losing the mohawk but not the swear words. “Greg Manusky is a caffeine- fueled football coach who exudes energy and oozes expletives,” one sports writer noted.
Growing up near Wilkes Barre, Pa., Manusky followed in the footsteps of his two older brothers and played football in high school. He remembers himself as being the worst athlete of the three. “My father didn’t want any of us to play football in college,” he says, “but more than my brothers did, I really wanted to get to the level of the NFL. When I got a financial aid offer from Colgate, [my dad] changed his mind.”
These days, Manusky laughs when he says he’d “rather be playing than coaching, because now I don’t get that much sleep. My mind is constantly racing and planning: What are we doing on the second down, what are they doing on the third?” But after two decades serving in coaching positions for the Commanders, San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, and, as of last  season, the Vikings, he can confidently state: “I am a good coach.
“These kids are here to learn, and my job is to be there for them and to find out how they do that,” he elaborates. “Is it by being on the field, by watching the tapes, or do I have to draw a play for them? The biggest thing for me is that I like having fun,” he concludes. “I want energy, I want to see smiles on faces every day. I have plates and screws in my ankle, I got a new hip — but I’ve had such joy in my career. All I want is for these guys to have that same joy.”