In 2002, Bill Polian and Tony Dungy were going for a run on the treadmill ahead of the NFL Draft. The Indianapolis Colts just finish 6-10 after being 4-4 and fired Jim Mora as a result of it.
Their rookie defensive minded head coach and future hall of famer only had three players with five or more sacks. He and the Colts general manager were talking about the NFL Draft and fell in love with a defensive end from Syracuse. It was Dwight Freeney.
“We saw a player who dominated at the collegiate level to who had all the traits necessary to be an outstanding defensive end not only for our system, but for the National Football League. For our system he was ideal. If he’d been six foot four, he’s probably the first or second guy off the board.” Bill Polian revealed on Query & Company Friday afternoon.
It was a highly debated pick within the Colts organization if they wanted to select Freeney or defensive tackle Charles Grant out of Georgia. Going into draft day on April 20th, 2002, the decision hadn’t been made yet until their afternoon run.
“We happened to be side by side on the treadmills that afternoon and I said to him that we’re on a dead heat here, what’s your thinking? Dungy said I’ll take speed anytime and all the time. Polian responded by saying great, that’s how I feel. We’re going to select Dwight Freeney. Polian stated.”
Freeney finished his career with a long list of accolades:
- 7x Pro-Bowler
- 3x All-Pro Member
- 7 seasons with 10+ sacks
- Led the league in sacks in 2004 with 16
- Super Bowl Champion
As noted above, the draw back to Freeney coming out of college was his size. Early in the pre-draft process Polian and Dungy came to an agreement.
“We had decided early in the process when Tony came on board, that in the salary cap era, you can’t afford to be locked in to a concrete template that says a guy has to be this tall and have this much wingspan. There were three tests that we applied to a player. It was the triangle drill, 40-yard dash, production, and obviously the character. If that was good, we were good.” Polian shared.
To end 2023, the latest member of the Indianapolis Colts to be inducted into the Hall of Fame joined Query & Company to talk about being nominated for the Hall of Fame. Additionally, he shared his case to be inducted into Canton.
Other topics that Bill Polian discussed on Query & Company Friday afternoon were:
- If playing on turf factored into selecting Dwight Freeney
- States that the Colts are a playoff contending team with Anthony Richardson
- How recent he’s contacted with Jim Irsay
To listen to Jake Query and Jimmy Cook’s conversation with Bill Polian, download the podcast containing the conversation below! You can always listen to the Query & Company from 12pm-3pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan. You can also watch and interact with the show by going to the 107.5 The Fan YouTube Channel.
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