INDIANAPOLIS — This time, running out of the tunnel at Lucas Oil Stadium was a different feeling for Dwight Freeney.
Back in his playing days, routinely being introduced last among his defensive teammates, Freeney was strapped up in his uniform and looking to hit someone. However, on Sunday as he was about to be inducted into the Indianapolis Colts' Ring of Honor, Freeney had to settle himself down a bit.
One the greatest pass rushers in league history, Freeney on Sunday was inducted into the Colts' Ring of Honor, becoming its first-ever defensive member.
"This is different. This is different," he told reporters after the induction ceremony. "Before, when I'd come out of the tunnel and I'm last out of the tunnel, I had my helmet on, I'm ready to go, I'm just ready to attack somebody. This wasn't attack mode. This was more, 'Alright, Dwight, calm down. You've gotta remember what you thought about, what you're gonna say.' It was a different feeling, but a great feeling."
Freeney's ceremony on Sunday, at halftime of the team's Week 10 matchup against the Miami Dolphins, featured several former teammates and coaches, fellow members of the Ring of Honor as well as team owner Jim Irsay.
Officially the 16th member of the Ring of Honor, Freeney, who played 11 seasons (2002-12) in Indianapolis and had 107.5 of his 125.5 career sacks with the Colts, Freeney was still in disbelief after stepping off the stage at midfield.
"It's amazing. It's something that you just don't think about," Freeney said. "I didn't plan for this when I was playing. I just went out and had a good time, and I got the phone call that said, 'Hey, you're gonna be in the Ring of Honor.' It was shocking. And now to see so many guys I haven't seen in 10, 15 years, out of all that comes emotion, and it feels great."
One of the greatest defensive players in franchise history, Freeney became known for his patented spin move, the strip sack and his knack for coming up with big sacks late in games.
Numerous Indianapolis Colts alumni and special guests were back at Lucas Oil Stadium as Dwight Freeney became the 16th honoree in the organization's Ring Of Honor.
Selected in the first round (11th overall) in the 2002 NFL Draft, Freeney was named an Associated Press All-Pro four times (three First Team and one Second Team) and made seven Pro Bowls. He led the NFL in sacks in 2004 with 16.0, which was a personal single-season career best, and was named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team for his dominance.
In 163 games with the Colts, Freeney totaled 307 tackles (48 for loss), 107.5 sacks, 14 pass breakups, 44 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one safety and one touchdown. He now ranks second in team history in career sacks behind Robert Mathis’ 123.0.
Freeney ranks second in franchise history in both games with a sack (81) and multi-sack games (25). While with the Colts, he had seven seasons with at least 10.0 sacks, his 16.0 sacks in 2004 rank as the second most in a season in franchise history, and he owns the franchise single-season rookie record in sacks with 13.0 in 2002.
Freeney played in 218 career regular season games and 22 playoff games over 16 seasons. After departing the Colts in 2013, he moved on to the San Diego Chargers (2013-14), Arizona Cardinals (2015), Atlanta Falcons (2016), Seattle Seahawks (2017) and Detroit Lions (2017). Along with his Super Bowl win with the Colts in February 2007, he appeared in the Super Bowl with them again in 2010, and then with the Falcons in 2017.
He compiled 341 tackles (63 for loss), 125.5 sacks, 47 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, 16 pass breakups, one safety and one touchdown over the course of his career. In the postseason, Freeney had 38 tackles (six for loss), 11.0 sacks, one pass breakup, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He is 17th in NFL history in sacks, fifth in forced fumbles and was ranked tied for fifth in career postseason sacks when he retired.
Freeney joins the following existing members of the Colts Ring of Honor: owner Robert Irsay (1996), wide receiver Bill Brooks (1998), head coach Ted Marchibroda (2000), offensive lineman Chris Hinton (2001), quarterback Jim Harbaugh(2005), “Colts Nation” (2007), head coach Tony Dungy (2010), wide receiver Marvin Harrison (2011), running back Edgerrin James (2012), running back Eric Dickerson and running back Marshall Faulk (2013), center Jeff Saturday (2015), general manager Bill Polian (2016), quarterback Peyton Manning (2017) and wide receiver Reggie Wayne (2018).