Orange Watch: Dwight Freeney should be yet another Syracuse football Hall of Fame inductee

Dwight Freeney
Michael Vick (7), of the Atlanta Falcons scrambles past Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney (93) in the 2006 Pro Bowl held at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. Photo Credit: Cpl. Michelle M. Dickson of the U.S. Marine Corp.

Item: Dwight Freeney’s recent retirement as a one day member of the Indianapolis Colts, ending a 16 year NFL career with six teams, means that Syracuse figures to move up to nine members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame when Freeney’s name begins coming up for consideration among the Hall voters starting in 2022.

It didn’t take the quick and agile Freeney long to begin building his Hall of Fame worthy career path to Canton with 13 sacks as a Colts rookie in 2002, third best in the league, and the start of four straight seasons with 11 or more sacks using his signature spin move. He formed with teammate Robert Mathis one of the top pass rushing tandems over 11 seasons in Indianapolis, capped by a win in Super Bowl XLI over Chicago.

Freeney finished his standout play with 125.5 sacks, tied for 17th best in NFL history, and all but six of those players ahead of him on the list are enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

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“Marvelous career,” boasted the man who drafted Freeney in ’02, former Colts general manager, and a Hall of Famer himself, Bill Polian, to ESPN.com. “Hopefully the next step is the Hall of Fame for Dwight.”

With eight current Syracuse representatives with their likeness featured in Canton, SU is tied with three other schools (Alabama, Michigan, and Pittsburgh) for the fourth spot among colleges with the most Hall members. Only Notre Dame (13), Southern California (12), and Ohio State (10) have more.

Freeney, or perhaps Donovan McNabb (23rd in all time passing yardage, five NFC title games, one Super Bowl), or Gary Anderson (third all time scoring leader behind Hall member Morten Andersen and future Hall member Adam Vinatieri), or Walt Sweeney (nine consecutive AFL All Star or NFL Pro Bowl teams from 1964-1972), or Tom Coughlin (two time Super Bowl winning coach and Jacksonville Jaguars expansion builder), could one day push Syracuse into the fourth spot alone, although those other schools with a large representation figure to have annual nominees as well.

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Brad Bierman
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Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.