Dwight Freeney wasn’t just a game changer. He changed the game…for me.

Colts Linebacker Dwight Freeney (Photo: Indy Star)

Colts Linebacker Dwight Freeney
(Photo: Indy Star)

Goodbye, old friend.

There are certain players you have a kinship with. You feel like you know them, like you have a history with them, like you’ve been through some stuff with them…even if you’ve never met them. Dwight Freeney is one of those players for me.

Dwight Freeney has been a member of the Indianapolis Colts for as long as I’ve been a fan. And there aren’t many players I can say that about. Not anymore.

Dwight Freeney and I both went to Syracuse. So, there’s that. We weren’t there together. But I would imagine he spent a few evenings at 44’s. As did I (more than I care to mention, really).

But that doesn’t even explain it. It’s neither of those things. The reason Dwight Freeney is special to me is because he taught me something about football.

I have always been a football fan. But I used to watch football for the offense. I loved watching the quarterback make the impossible throw, watching the receiver make the unbelievable catch, watching the running back make the unforeseen path to the end zone. That’s what did it for me.

And I’d spend the next possession hoping the other team didn’t score.

Then, I became a Colts fan.

And I started watching Dwight Freeney chase quarterbacks. I watched him break through offensive lines, spin his way though multiple linemen, and ultimately end up face to face, on the ground, with the ball holder, and sometimes the ball.

It finally hit me. Defense wasn’t just about holding the other team, preventing them from scoring. Defense was about making plays, disrupting timing, and changing the game.

And the fans could help…by making noise. Lots of noise. We fed off each other, we built momentum, and together…we won games. Lots of games.

I am a different fan now. I watch the game differently. I am complete. And I will never be the same. Thanks to Dwight Freeney. A guy I’ve never met, but will greatly miss.

Thanks, my friend. See you in the Ring of Honor.

I’ll be there, cheering…just like the old days.

 

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