INDIANAPOLIS — Jerrell Freeman turned 32 years old on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, he started a new chapter in his life.
The former Indianapolis Colts linebacker today announced his retirement from the National Football League:
"My health and my family are my top priorities," Freeman wrote in a tweet. "I wanted to thank all the coaches and teammates I have played with over the years; you have impacted my life more than you'll ever know! I also want to thank all the amazing and passionate fans that I've been able to play in front of an interact with."
Before Freeman got his big break as a tackling machine with the Indianapolis Colts from 2012 through 2015, he had to take his lumps as a Division III college product trying to make a name for himself in the Canadian Football League.
Freeman went undrafted coming out of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in 2008, but was signed by the Tennessee Titans as a college free agent, though the team would cut him prior to the start of the regular season. So from 2009 through 2011, Freeman got his first full-time professional job with the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders.
But in 2012, the Colts, needing a playmaker in the middle of their defense, took a chance on Freeman — and he didn't disappoint. In 57 games — all starts — in Indy, he recorded an astounding 478 tackles with 12 sacks, four interceptions (two of which he returned for a touchdown) and forced eight fumbles as one of the best run-stoppers in the entire league.
Freeman's best season with the Colts was in 2013, when he racked up 144 tackles, 5.5 sacks, seven passes defensed, two interceptions and six forced fumbles.
Freeman signed a free agent deal with the Chicago Bears during the 2016 offseason. He would play 13 games, all starts, with the Bears, recording 120 total tackles with four passes defensed.