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Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden: Dwight Freeney was one of toughest players to block

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Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden wrote today for The Players' Tribune that former Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney was among the toughest players he ever had to block.

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Jonathan Ogden is one of 28 offensive tackles in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as he was inducted as a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2013 after a tremendous 12-year career with the Baltimore Ravens.  Ogden played in 177 career games (starting 176 of them) and made 11 Pro Bowl appearances and was named to a first-team All-Pro four times.  He was a member of the NFL's All-Decade team of the 2000s as well, proving to be one of the best offensive linemen of the era.

It is interesting, then, to read a recent piece from Ogden as a part of The Players' Tribune on the five toughest players to block that he faced during his career.  On the list was former Colts pass rusher Dwight Freeney, also a member of the 2000s All-Decade team, who Ogden had high praise for.  He wrote that he has a lot of respect for Freeney (who he calls a "really good guy) and says that the two have played a few rounds of golf.  He added that, "I'm comfortable calling him the most dominant pass rusher of my era."

But what made him so dominant?  It was a combination of things, but Ogden correctly pointed out Freeney's famous spin move as very tough to defend.  Here's part of what Freeney wrote:

A lot of people had spin moves, but what made Dwight's so deadly is that his feet never stopped moving. It was just pure explosion. It's a move that has been often replicated, but never duplicated. Blocking him was like facing the most talented fighter in the world who happens to be in one weight class below you. This is a guy who made a lot of really talented tackles block thin air on play after play after play.

Battling Dwight in that dome in Indianapolis, when it was rocking, was damn near impossible. Here's a guy who has one of the quickest first steps in NFL history, and then he gets a jump on you every play because it's too loud to hear the cadence. I hated when we called pass plays there. I'll never forget when we played one game in Indianapolis, and threw the ball 45 times. That's 45 plays when the team said, "Hey, Jon, figure out how to stop this guy nobody stops. Thanks." I allowed two sacks, but this isn't a job where performing well 43 out of 45 times gets you a pat on the back. People thought I was making up excuses after the game when I was frustrated, but withstanding 45 Freeney spins on the road is a tough task.

Freeney was indeed as disruptive as any pass rusher during the 2000s, particularly during Ogden's tenure with the Ravens.  Freeney has played in 187 career games (156 starts) and has recorded 113.5 sacks and 44 forced fumbles.  He racked up seven double-digit sack seasons and was named to seven Pro Bowls and three first-team All-Pro teams.

His spin move was dominant and very tough for players to defend against, even for a Hall of Fame caliber player such as Jonathan Ogden.  The former offensive tackle also listed Derrick Thomas (who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well), Clyde Simmons, Simeon Rice, and Jason Taylor among the top five toughest players to block that he played against.