Syracuse Football Alumni in the NFL Part 4: Dwight Freeney Sacks Patriots

There is one Syracuse football alumni who is still getting it done. Now Dwight Freeney is headed back to the Super Bowl with the Atlanta Falcons.

This will be a series discussing Syracuse players in the National Football League.

The Syracuse football team has not had a lot to cheer for the past couple of seasons and this time of year is the down period for college football fans that have to wait three months until the Spring Game.  Let’s continue our walk down memory lane together and discuss the former Orange players who are still lacing up on Sundays.

Dwight Freeney: Atlanta Falcons

Let start this off by saying that I waited until this week to discuss Dwight Freeney.  The Falcons have made it back to the Super Bowl to face the New England Patriots this Sunday.  The Falcons have been to one previous Super Bowl under Dan Reeves but this one is going to be special.

The Falcons will have a disproportionate number of fans rooting for a win come this Sunday; not because of their catchy moniker ‘Rise Up’ and not because there are a lot of Dirty Birds floating around.  It comes down to people are just sick of the New England Patriots and their Ugg Boot wearing Quarterback.

Whether it’s all the cheating, from ‘Deflategate’ to ‘Spygate’ NFL fans are just done with this team and their cut-off sweatshirt wearing coach (who may go down as the best coach the NFL has ever seen).  So let me help you get behind the Falcons by giving you a breakdown of arguably the best athlete to ever lace up his cleats for the Orange.

Dwight was a four-sport letterman for his high school in Hartford, Connecticut.  He played basketball (four years), baseball (four years), soccer (1 year) and football (3 years).

When he left school he held his high school record for most sacks and the record for most sacks in

a career for the state of Connecticut.  He moved onto Syracuse where he was a two year starter.  In both of his two years as a starter he was an All Big East Conference selection (2000 & 2001) and was a first team All American in his last year as at Syracuse.

Prior to putting on weight in preparation for the NFL Dwight was clocked at 4.40 in the 40 yard dash; setting the record for defensive lineman which still stands today.  His other combine numbers speak to his freakishness: 40 inch vertical and 28 reps on the bench press.  His other unparalleled stats are 17.5 sacks in his senior season and a jaw dropping 4.5 sacks of Michael Vick in a single game.

He was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the 2002 draft.  In his rookie campaign he showed no love for former Orange quarterback Donovan McNabb forcing three fumbles in one game.  He went on to set a rookie record with nine forced fumbles and was runner-up for defensive rookie of the year.  With his patented spin, in his third season he led the NFL in sacks with sixteen.  Dwight went on to play eleven years with the Colts winning a Super Bowl in 2006 and left the club as the all-time sack leader.

Since leaving the Colts Dwight has played for the Chargers, Cardinals and now has landed with the Falcons.  In the twilight of his illustrious NFL career he is primarily used in passing situations to rush the passer.  He currently ranks 18th on the NFL Career Sacks leaders.

Freeney’s teams are 4-9 against Brady, including 1-2 in the playoffs. The last time he brought down Brady was in 2010. “I’ve been chasing Tom for a long time,” Freeney told reporters Thursday. This could be his last time chasing Brady after an illustrious career.

We always hear the NFL dream of going out on top and riding off into the sunset.  So with that in mind Orange Nation I ask you to Rise Up and root for one of the most prolific Cuse players off all time this Sunday and at the end of the day I hope we are not all ‘deflated’.

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