INDIANAPOLIS —Bill Polian picked him specifically for Tony Dungy's defense.
And what a fit he was.
The 11th-overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, Dwight Freeney immediately became the cornerstone of new head coach Tony Dungy's speedy defensive attack in Indianapolis.
Freeney showed he was the real deal his rookie year, when he defied the analysis of some draft experts who considered him too small for the professional game by collecting 13 sacks and nine forced fumbles, somehow finishing second in that year's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.
But Freeney was just getting started.
By the time he played his final down with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, he had amassed 307 tackles (48 for a loss), 107.5 sacks, 14 passes defensed, 44 forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Freeney would go on to play in parts of the next five seasons with six different teams, but he will, of course, forever be remember as a Colt.
Not surprisingly, both Polian and Dungy have each been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, thanks in large part to their work finding and developing guys like Freeney.
And now that Freeney has decided to retire as a Colt after 16 brilliant years terrorizing opposing quarterbacks — not to mention those trying to get in his way — his former general manager and head coach had some special words to say about No. 93:
Bill Polian:"Dwight Freeney was a game changer in every respect. He was a supremely gifted pass rusher who became a supreme master of his craft. His myriad of moves were unparalleled. He could beat you with speed, power, change of direction or finesse. In addition to being among the all-time best sack leaders he was a great run defender as well. Dwight was considered "too short" by draft experts. Very few in the history of the game have had as "big" a career as Dwight. It was a thrill and privilege to be his teammate. I hope to see him honored with a Gold Jacket in the future."
*Tony Dungy: "Dwight and I will always have a special relationship because he was the first player we picked after I arrived in 2002. He symbolizes what we were looking for in fast, tenacious and driven players. Dwight wanted to be the best player at his position in the NFL and he quietly went about doing just that. He was a pleasure to coach and a player we could always count on to deliver big plays in the biggest moments."*