Greg Senat sprained his big toe in the Baltimore Ravens’ last preseason game in 2018 — on the road, against the Miami Dolphins — forcing him to sit out his rookie season. But on Feb. 2, the Elmont native had a chance to return to Miami, this time at the Super Bowl an offensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It’s kind of a blessing how everything comes full circle,” said Senat, 25. “In reality, I shouldn’t be where I am.”
Senat’s family moved to Elmont from Hollis, Queens, when he was 5 years old. He learned how to play basketball while attending the Dutch Broadway School, and picked up lacrosse when he was in junior high school. He didn’t try out for football, he said, until he was in ninth grade at Elmont Memorial High School.
He liked the “strong comrade mentality,” he previously told the Herald, but still thought he would excel at basketball. So he transferred to Marianapolis Preparatory High School in Thompson, Conn., which is known for its basketball program, in his junior year. He went on to play basketball at Wagner College, on Staten Island, and even though the team won the Northeast Conference championship in 2016, Senat said he felt like something was missing. “I don’t know what it was,” he said, but when he watched a football game he thought it looked “pretty fun” and wanted to give the sport another shot.
He then embarked on an ambitious journey to become a two-sport athlete. With the OK from Wagner’s head football coach, Jason Houghtaling, Senat began a crash course in college football. He spent days and nights studying the team’s plays and reviewing footage of the Seahawks in order to compete at their level. He even put on 30 pounds to play offensive tackle — and he would have to put on another 30 in order to play in the NFL.
He continued to play forward for the Wagner basketball team, despite weighing 285 pounds at the time, about 40 pounds heavier than the average NBA starting forward, according to a 2014 Business Insider article on the weight and size of professional athletes.
“It was a tremendous commitment,” Houghtaling said. “He’s a grinder type of guy who improves on anything he can.”
He played on the football team for two years, and in January 2018, Senat became the first-ever football player from the Northeast Conference to play in the East-West Shrine All-Star Game, a prestigious event in which the best college players from teams around the country compete to benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children.
At the event, Senat matched skills with the country’s top college players. He was the only two-sport athlete there, and was picked as one of the starting offensive tackles for the West squad — which won the game, 14-10.
“It was his reward for all the training he went through, “ Houghtaling said.
Then, in March 2018, came the NFL Scouting Combine, at which young players showed off their talent to top executives, coaches and personnel from all 32 NFL teams. To prepare for it, Senat built his speed and strength and gained even more bulk, until he weighed more than 300 pounds.
“I finally got the chance to show everyone all the work I had done,” he said.
His hard work earned him a sixth-round pick by the Ravens, with team staff writer Ryan Mink noting that Senat had impressive reflexes and speed, but could use more bulk. Still, he was one of only eight rookies to sign with the team. “They took a shot on me,” he recalled.
But his toe injury kept him out of the 2018 NFL season, and the Ravens released him on Sept. 14, 2019. Senat spent the next few days hoping some other team would pick him up. Two days later, his wish came true, when the Chiefs called him about an offensive tackle’s job.
His first season on the team seemed to echo his forgettable rookie season on the Ravens. Senat was placed on injured reserve with a fractured bone in his foot in November, and had to sit out for the rest of the season.
But the team went on to take the Super Bowl crown with a dramatic, come-from-behind win over the San Francisco 49ers in Miami on Feb. 2.
The Chiefs were behind by 10 points at the end of the third quarter. “In the middle, I think a lot of people were doubting us,” Senat said. “But I was never really worried. We thrive in adversity.”
That proved to be true, as quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the team down the field with a 44-yard pass to wide receiver Tyreek Hill, setting up a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce. Then, on the Chiefs’ next possession, Mahomes completed four consecutive passes to move them to the 49ers’ 10-yard-line, and then threw a five-yard touchdown pass to running back Damien Williams.
“We kind of turned the tides pretty quickly,” Senat recounted.
In the end, Chiefs’ fans who had been waiting for a Super Bowl victory for 50 years had their dreams come true, as the Chiefs’ beat the 49ers 31-20.
“This is what you dream of,” Senat said. “In that moment, you’re the best team in the world.”
But, he said, the team would not have been so successful without the support of the fans, and he would not have made it as far as he has in his career without his faith, saying, “I’m just grateful that God has put me on this path.”