Dwight Freeney is no longer in the NFL, but he’s as qualified as any pass rusher in league history to talk about the toughest players over the past two decades. Freeney is a four-time All Pro and was named to the First Team All 2000s roster by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and played for the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, and the Atlanta Falcons.
Freeney’s reached three Super Bowls over the course of his career with the final game (so far) coming as a member of the Falcons against the New England Patriots, where he registered his fifth career sack against Tom Brady.
Only six players have recorded more career sacks against Brady than Freeney did, and that could be why Freeney named Tom Brady as one of the 5 toughest players he faced over the course of his career.
“Tom is the most disciplined quarterback I’ve ever played against,” Freeney writes for The Players’ Tribune. “He’s always cool. You can’t shake him. You can’t rattle him. He also gets rid of the ball very quickly, and it’s frustrating because even when you do everything right — you fire off the ball and beat your man and get to the quarterback — most times, the ball is gone before you even get there because he’s making his reads and being decisive. His internal clock is uncanny.
“He also has incredible pocket presence. He’s not the most athletic or mobile quarterback, but he has great footwork, and he has that sixth sense that the best quarterbacks have where he can keep his eyes downfield and go through his progressions while feeling how the pocket is moving or breaking down around him. And he knows how to move up in the pocket at just the right time, or take a side step to buy him an extra split second to beat the pressure.
“Tom just knows how to keep himself out of trouble better than any quarterback I’ve ever seen.
“That’s what makes him Tom Brady.”
Freeney also notes that the players on his list “gave me some bad memories,” and few players have had a greater impact on Freeney’s career than Brady. Without Brady, then perhaps Freeney would be the one with five Super Bowl titles.
The other players on the list include quarterbacks, running backs, and an offensive lineman. Check it out here.