Colts DE Dwight Freeney on battling Patriots, the similarities between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady

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Joining Colin Cowherd in studio on The Herd, Dwight Freeney reveals what it was like to compete against Tom Brady while on the Indianapolis Colts with Peyton Manning.

- Dwight, these were huge games. I mean this was like-- this was Magic/Bird of the NFL. They got-- in fact, they got much bigger ratings than that. Everybody just says, a game's a game's a game. But even the regular season Patriot battles, were they different?

- Absolutely. It was never just a game. And I think obviously over the years of losing, and them losing to us, and then just the back and forth-- you know, I think it just became more and more hyped. I always say it all the time-- it was almost like they were in our division, you know? It was the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans,

COLIN COWHERD: And the Patriots.

- And then the Patriots, you know. And they were in our division. We played them twice a year. And they were a thorn in our side. And a couple of times, we're a thorn in their side.


- And it was a great thing that, you know, I will remember forever, man, regardless if we won or lost.

COLIN COWHERD: You are in a very rare position. I mean, you may be one of only one or two people on the Earth that can say this. There's not many.

- OK.

- OK, you're a great player who played against Peyton Manning in practice and against Tom in games. You heard both those languages.

- Yep.

- Now, one may have been Italian, one may have been French, but it's a smart language, either way.

- Absolutely.

- So take me to the-- take me to when you were staring down Peyton at practice and Tom in games. Similar? Different?

- There's a lot more similar than different.


- You know, I think that seeing Peyton on a day-to-day basis, practice in, practice out-- there was a lot of, you know-- what you see on TV was the same in practice. It was a lot of changing plays, different things. It wasn't just like a show on game day.

COLIN COWHERD: He was challenging himself constantly.

- It was challenging the team, but it was, you know, also just going through what it was going to be like in the game, you know? And it was always that way in practice. So when the game came--

COLIN COWHERD: The same thing.

- It was the same thing. Everybody understood it. We treated practice like the games in Indianapolis. Now, obviously I didn't practice, you know, in the Patriots, whatever. I don't know what they went through throughout practice.

COLIN COWHERD: But all the times you played Brady, did he-- in poker, they call them tells. You know, you play in poker and you watch a guy, and he itches his face when he's got the ace. Did Brady have some tells? Was there anything with Tom you could-- oh, I've seen Tom 28 times. I know what he's doing.

- It's funny, because I remember, you know, towards the end of my career, I ended up having to play outside linebacker and drop back in coverage, which I'd never wanted to do ever, ever. So there was one particular time we're playing the Patriots, and I have to stand up and cover Gronkowski, OK, in the slot.

And it was the absolute most terrifying thing for me, a guy who likes to have his hand down going forward. Now you're trying to tell me now the ball is being hiked and I'm running away from the guy with the ball? So I had to sit there, and I had-- I actually had an opportunity, the true opportunity, to really look at Brady and look at what he was doing.

And he did something with his hands where I swore up and down I knew what was going to happen. I said, oh. I caught him. I know exactly what pass they're going to throw. And I think that he knew that I was looking. So he actually gave me something that was the wrong thing.

And I ended up jumping the wrong route. 40 yards down the field, Gronkowski, I'm chasing him down. I'm pissed off that they had me drop back coverage. So I think I might have got subbed out to the next plan. It was disastrous. But he's one of those guys that also does the same type of thing.