Growing up in Connecticut, Dwight Freeney’s dad used to coach him in basketball.
It wasn't an easy job.
“I used to get called for traveling all the time. I’d get the ball in post, do my little drop step, get called for traveling all day. I didn’t think I traveled. So, I couldn’t really do the basketball thing,” he said.
But those skills transferred well into football.
“I got on the football field and the coach was like, ‘I don’t care how you get there – just get there. Just make the guy miss. Do whatever you have to do,’” he said.
And that’s where his trademark spin move was born.
“I was pretty good at traveling or spinning or drop step, whatever it was. And I just kind of incorporated that into my game of football. I started in high school and I just kept running with it. It became a natural thing.”
So natural in fact, it became a part of everything he did.
“Being a rush man, you have to eat, breathe, sleep getting after the quarterback. It’s something that doesn’t leave you. You’re in a grocery store and you see an old lady coming and you have to make a move on her. You have to make a little spin move on the old lady.”
He was even sacking quarterbacks in his sleep.
“It could be the middle of the night and you wake up from a dream – you had seven sacks in your dream and you wake up and realize you just missed a sack and now you can’t get back to sleep.”
Dwight Freeney didn’t just become a football player – football became a part of him.
“I’m proud of the work that I put in. I gave it my all. Hopefully, I made a difference in some kid’s life like Lawrence Taylor did for me when I was younger.”
After a 16-year NFL career that included stints with the Chargers, Cardinals, Falcons, Seahawks, and Lions – on Monday afternoon, the former Colts defensive end returned to Indianapolis to sign a one-day contract and retire where his NFL career began.
“Over the years, I started moving team to team and it wasn’t the same. It just wasn’t the same. To have this type of feeling and camaraderie is a special deal. I can always look back on these moments and smile.”
The 11th pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, Dwight Freeney spun his way into the hearts of Colts fans and owner Jim Irsay, who thinks he’ll spin his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“One of the greatest football players I have ever seen in my life,” he said. “You were special. Thank you so much for making the Horseshoe shine so brightly.”
Dwight Freeney will always be a Colt.
“This is home,” he said. “I was here for 11 years – 11 great years.”
Thanks for the memories, 93.