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Colts great Dwight Freeney named to Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024

Freeney, who spent 2002-2012 with the Colts, totaled 125 1/2 career sacks – which is 18th in NFL history. 

Bring The Heat Boulevard is adding an address in Canton.

Longtime Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney on Thursday was announced as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Modern Era Class of 2024, along with return specialist Devin Hester, defensive end Julius Peppers, wide receiver Andre Johnson and linebacker Patrick Willis. Freeney earned his place in Canton in just his second year of eligibility, stamping a dominant career with a gold jacket and bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"Dwight built himself into one of the game's most feared pass rushers with his trademark spin moves," Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay said. "He provided Colts fans with many thrilling moments as one of pro football's all-time greats, and he truly deserves this honor."

Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy delivered the news of his election to Freeney.

Freeney totaled 125 1/2 sacks (18th all-time and second in Colts history) over his 16-year career spent with the Colts (2002-2012), San Diego Chargers (2013-2014), Arizona Cardinals (2015), Atlanta Falcons (2016), Seattle Seahawks (2017) and Detroit Lions (2017). He was a three-time first-team AP All-Pro (2004, 2005, 2009) and a seven-time Pro Bowler (2003-2005, 2008-2011), and was named to the prestigious NFL All-Decade team for the 2000s.

The Colts selected Freeney with the 11th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, and at the time, his 6-foot-1, 270 pound frame was somewhat of an outlier in an era when defensive ends were usually bigger. But Freeney's explosive athleticism, blazing speed and surgical technique made him a dominant force in college at Syracuse, and the Colts believed those traits would carry over to the NFL.

Using his patented spin move – which he developed for years after watching And1 Mixtapes – Freeney was impactful from the moment he debuted with the Colts. He totaled 13 sacks (a Colts rookie record) and led the NFL with nine forced fumbles and 20 tackles for a loss in 2002, earning him a second-place finish in AP Defensive Rookie of the Year voting behind now-fellow Hall of Famer Julius Peppers.

Freeney had at least 11 sacks in each of his first four years in the NFL; only five players in NFL history have had more sacks than Freeney's 51 in their first four pro seasons. Freeney led the NFL with 16 sacks in 2004.

Like his "Bring The Heat Boulevard" pass rushing mate Robert Mathis – a Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist each of the last three years – Freeney didn't just rack up sacks. He frequently turned sacks into turnovers, and his 47 forced fumbles are fifth in NFL history. Freeney forced at least four fumbles in each of his first seven seasons; his nine forced fumbles in 2002 at the time set an NFL record.

Freeney was dynamic in the postseason, too: He totaled 11 sacks (tied for 6th all-time) and six tackles for a loss over 22 career playoff games. His 11th and final playoff sack came as a member of the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, when he dropped New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to the turf in the fourth quarter.

After a foot injury sidelined him for the final seven games of the 2007 season, Freeney returned to form over the back half of his time with the Colts. He earned a spot in the Pro Bowl every year from 2008-2011, and totaled double-digit sacks in 2008 (10.5), 2009 (13), and 2010 (10). Freeney famously gritted through an ankle injury sustained in the 2009 AFC Championship to start and record a sack two weeks later in Super Bowl XLIV.

Freeney signed with the San Diego Chargers as a free agent in 2013 and continued playing deep into his 30s, totaling 18 sacks, three forced fumbles, 36 quarterback hits and 15 tackles for a loss between the ages of 33 and 37 with the Chargers, Cardinals, Falcons, Seahawks and Lions. Freeney retired as a member of the Colts in 2018 and was inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor in 2019.

This summer, Freeney will take his place alongside several other Colts from the franchise's dominant run in the 2000s: Quarterback Peyton Manning (Class of 2021), running back Edgerrin James (Class of 2020), wide receiver Marvin Harrison (Class of 2016), head coach Tony Dungy (Class of 2016) and general manager Bill Polian (Class of 2015).

Eventually, wide receiver Reggie Wayne – who fell short of induction despite being a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist for the fifth consecutive year – should take his rightful place in Canton, too. Mathis, the NFL's all-time leader in forced fumbles, will continue to draw consideration from the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, while kicker Adam Vinatieri will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame beginning in 2025.

Freeney will become the third Colts defensive lineman enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, alongside Art Donovan (1968) and Gino Marchetti (1972).

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Check out photos of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Indianapolis Colts great Dwight Freeney.

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