INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Coming out of the tunnel Sunday reminded Dwight Freeney of the glory days.
“I have my helmet on,” Freeney remembers, “I’m ready to go, you know just go and attack somebody. Well this isn’t attack mode. This is ‘Alright, Dwight. Calm down. You have to remember what you thought about and what you’re gonna say.’ Different feeling, but a great feeling.”
What made it so great? Both the fans who showed their appreciation with cheers and Freeney’s former Colts’ teammates who stood beside him.
“I was so glad Dwight Freeney was my teammate and not my opponent,” explained Peyton Manning. “I was thankful I didn’t have to play against him in a real game. I know a lot of quarterbacks and left tackles were glad when he retired. That’s probably the best compliment you can give a guy like Dwight Freeney.”
“The journey to took with so many guys,” added Freeney, “what we went through, now we’re back, those feelings come back, and they’re coming back for a moment that, to be quite honest, is all of our moment. I couldn’t do anything without those guys.”
Freeney was part of a 2000’s era Colts team that changed the football culture of a franchise, inspiring a new generation of football fans and players, one of whom has a space in the Colts’ locker room: Tight end Jack Doyle.
“Pregame, seeing guys I grew up watching coming through the locker room, I’m like ‘Wow, that’s really cool,” says Doyle. “I remember honestly him and Robert (Mathis) together. You can’t think of one without the other.”
With another ring of honor spot likely up for grabs next year, it’s quite possible Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will soon be together once again.