Dwight Freeney has been training in Los Angeles during the NFL offseason for several years but then would leave the sunshine and return to the Midwest.
Now, the San Diego Chargers’ new linebacker is now making his home in Southern California and enjoying all it has to offer.
Here are 10 things to know about Freeney as he settles into the 2013 season.
1. He was lured by Torrey Pines
While the former Indianapolis Colt was testing the free-agent market, the Chargers brass took the Freeney to Torrey Pines Golf Course, the site of the 2008 U.S. Open and one of the country’s most picturesque courses, in an effort to convince the avid golfer to make San Diego home.
“That’s how they got me here,” Freeney said. “That was one of the first things (they said), ‘Oh, how about you come out here and play Torrey Pines?’ It was a great experience.”
Freeney is pretty sure he played the championship South Course. According to local lore, the infamous nude beach, Black Beach, can be seen from parts of the North Course, which is precisely where his next tee time will be.
“They must have had me on the other course,” Freeney said. “But I’ll definitely have to go check out that side.”
2. He wants to see the Tiger vs. Phil rivalry in person
If Freeney had his way, he would play a round on Torrey Pines with three of the top golfers to ever play the game in Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
“I’d get to see the Tiger-Phil rivalry, I’d get some tips from Jack,” Freeney said. “There would definitely be some good history.”
3. He’s looking forward to his first Taco Tuesday
“I’m about to be loving San Diego on Tuesdays. Tacos are delicious,” Freeney said.
Freeney had never heard of the event outside of the West Coast or the Philadelphia Eagles locker room, but he was instantly intrigued.
“Is it Taco Tuesdays? I hear that’s what it’s called,” Freeney said. “I don’t know anything about that but the good thing is I do love tacos. Tacos are actually one of my favorite foods.”
4. He’s a Caribbean cook
Although he loves to make tacos at home, his specialty is Caribbean food.
“I cook a little bit,” Freeney said. “I’m Jamaican, so I cook brown stew chicken, oxtail – all that stuff that’s Caribbean and Jamaican.”
5. He burns off his cooking with bowling
Along with golf and cooking, Freeney counts bowling as one of his favorite hobbies.
And he’s not too bad it either.
“(My game) is definitely good,” Freeney said. “I have my own bowling ball and everything.”
6. There is a man in Indianapolis sporting Freeney’s autograph on his body
“There was a guy back in Indianapolis and I think I had to sign his arm, which was fine,” Freeney said.
But then the routine autograph session took an odd turn.
“He was going to then tattoo the signature on to his body,” Freeney said. “There’s a guy with my signature as his tattoo.”
7. If it wasn’t the Chargers, it would be the Padres
Or the Mets.
Freeney excelled in four sports while growing up in Connecticut, but had football not worked out. he would have continued to pursue baseball.
“I grew up a big Mets fan in the era of Dwight Gooden, Daryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra – all those guys,” Freeney said.
8. He isn’t afraid to act like a tourist
It’s been a busy offseason for Freeney. He’s been training in L.A., and explored Europe while taking in the Cannes Film Festival. The next place he’s planning to explore is, of course, San Diego.
“I definitely have to check out Sea World and the zoo,” Freeney said. “I’m a big animal guy, I like animals. I would love to do that. I haven’t gone adventuring in the city yet, I’m still getting acclimated.”
9. His first Hollywood moment was courtesy of Stevie Wonder
Very rarely do athletes get starstruck but for Freeney, Stevie Wonder made him stop in his tracks.
“I saw Stevie Wonder and just said, ‘Wow’. That’s Stevie Wonder,” Freeney said. “That was my one guy.”
10. He thinks Los Angeles should have a football team
It’s a no-brainer for Freeney: He wants the NFL in L.A.
“It’s one of the largest cities in the country, why not?” Freeney said. “I’m sure being in close proximity to (San Diego), there would be a natural rivalry.
“But if they suck, if they aren’t good, then probably not.”