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Dwight Freeney headlines Pro Football Hall of Fame 2024 Class

Freeney will be enshrined in Canton with a gold jacket and a copper bust in August to solidify his name among the premier pass rushers in league history.

NFL: Super Bowl LVIII-Hall of Fame Class of 2024 Press Conference
Dwight Freeney during the NFL Hall of Fame Class of 2024 press conference at Resorts World Theatre.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis Colts icon Dwight Freeney rose from beneath the stage at the Resorts World Theatre on Thursday as the Pro Football Hall of Fame unveiled its seven members of the 2024 Class during the 13th annual NFL Honors ceremony.

Freeney played the first 11 seasons of his 16-year NFL career in Indianapolis from 2002-2012. After leading the league with nine forced fumbles and 20 tackles for loss in his rookie campaign, Freeney built another strong season to earn Second-Team All-Pro honors in 2003. He led the NFL with 16 sacks the following season, earning his first of three AP First-Team All-Pro honors in 2004, 2005, and 2009.

Freeney was named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade First Team. He compiled 125.5 sacks (18th all-time) and 47 forced fumbles in his career, which is tied with Jonathan Abraham for third all-time, behind HOF class member Julius Peppers (52) and teammate Robert Mathis (54). In 2019, the seven-time pro-bowler became the 16th member and the first defensive player to be inducted to the Colts Ring of Honor.

The most athletic defensive player in franchise history set the stage with one of the greatest NFL Scouting Combine performances at the RCA Dome. Freeney ran a 4.48 40-yard dash, bench pressed 28 reps and showcased profound leaping ability with a 37-inch vertical. Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, who became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl, began his first year at the helm three months before Indianapolis selected Freeney out of Syracuse with the No. 11 pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.

Freeney played an integral part in the 2006 Colts, who ultimately defeated the Chicago Bears 29-17 in Super Bowl XLI. With Indianapolis trailing 14-6 in the first quarter, Colts safety Bob Sanders laid a hit stick on Bears’ running back Cedric Benson at the line of scrimmage, which jarred the ball free. Freeney pounced on the loose ball to recover the fumble and regain possession inside Bears territory. In 17 playoff games for the Colts, Freeney produced 37 tackles, nine sacks and two forced fumbles.

He elevated the Colts to five consecutive divisional titles and stamped his legacy in Indianapolis with a Vince Lombardi trophy. No player rushed off the edge and placed the fear into gargantuan linemen like Freeney. With his signature spin move keeping left tackles off-balance, Freeney collapsed the pocket and delivered explosive blindside blows to opposing quarterbacks at will.

In his second year of eligibility, Freeney joins a seven-man 2024 class that includes defensive end Julius Peppers in his first year on the ballot, kick returner Devin Hester, receiver Andre Johnson, and linebacker Patrick Willis as the five modern-era inductees. Linebacker Randy Gradishar and defensive tackle Steve McMichael were inducted as senior finalists.

Freeney will be enshrined in Canton with a gold jacket and a copper bust in August to solidify his name among the premier pass rushers in league history and the foundational piece to the Colts first Super Bowl title in Indianapolis.