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“That’d Be a Penalty Now”: As Tom Brady Falls Flat on the Ground, Dwight Freeney Jokes About His Hit From 26 Years Ago

Ayush Juneja

"That'd Be a Penalty Now": As Tom Brady Falls Flat on the Ground, Dwight Freeney Jokes About His Hit From 26 Years Ago

Tom Brady has repeatedly iterated that physicality in today’s NFL pales in comparison to what it was when he entered the league. While many criticized him for the statement, many agreed with him. Defensive players cannot get away with hits that were part of the league for a long time and Dwight Freeney, who has sacked the 3-time MVP multiple times throughout his college career agrees with the sentiment.

Freeney, the Super Bowl-winning Defender, who recently got inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame joined Keyshawn Johnson on his All Facts No Brakes podcast to talk about being a HOFer. While reminiscing about his playing days and the QBs he sacked, Keyshawn brought up Tom Brady and played the game tape of the time when Feeney laid him out during their college days.

Dwight, a true freshman for Syracuse went up against Michigan in 1998. During the game, he made his first play as a freshman against Brady, who had just come off the bench for the Wolverines. As soon as Michigan snapped the ball, Feeney burst through the O-Line and tackled a gangly-looking Brady, pretty hard. Feeney asserted that that type of play wouldn’t stand today and that’d be a penalty now. He said,

That”d be a penalty right now…That actually might have been my first play as a college player period. It’s kinda crazy how you know everything comes full circle. My first play ever in college as a freshman was against Tom Brady. He wasn’t even a starter that game. They brought him off the bench to put him in the game. Fast forward years years later, I am still playing against the dude.”

Feeney recalls how he went on to play against the 7-time Super Bowl winner in the NFL over the years while playing for AFC rivals Colts, and even sacked Brady once in the Super Bowl while playing for the Falcons. While he may have been able to deliver a crushing tackle on Brady as a college player, he found it difficult to do so in the NFL.

He asserted that the Patriot’s system allowed Tom to get the ball out early, which as a rusher made him frustrated. Even if Feeney made his best move, and rushed through the O-line quickly, he still wasn’t able to sack him most times. And it was not just Brady that Feenry wanted to sack but didn’t get many opportunities to.

Dwight Freeney Always Wanted to Sack Peyton Manning

Freeney has made 132.5 sacks in his NFL career but never got to sack two players he always wanted. The first was Brett Favre. He stated that while he got the opportunity to play the 3-time MVP once when he was played for the Vikings, he couldn’t get a sack in because of Favre’s quick release.

Another name is Peyton Manning. Having spent most of their career together, he didn’t get to sack Manning, even when both left the Colts. He asserted that during the practice the coaches didn’t allow the defenders to come near the 5-time NFL MVP, let alone tackle or sack him.

The evolution of the game has changed how the sport is played nowadays. There have been continuous efforts to decrease the physicality of the game. However, the impact of diminished physicality extends beyond the NFL, affecting sports globally. Across the world, sports have seen a decline in physicality in favor of player safety.

While prioritizing player safety is paramount, injuries are inherent to the game. Is there truly a risk of the NFL turning into its more simplistic cousin flag football as many traditionalists lament the changing nature of the game?

Post Edited By:Nidhi

About the author

Ayush Juneja

Ayush Juneja


Ayush Juneja is an NFL Journalist at the SportsRush. New to Gridiron, he has been following the sport for past 9 months and has authored over 400 articles so far. As a sports enthusiast and a true adrenaline junkie, he finds the physical side of sports to be more thrilling and engaging. A big fan of Liverpool F.C., he now roots for another red team in San Francisco 49ers and would love to see a match at Levi's Stadium and Michigan Stadium. American culture and politics fascinates him and would love to experience it first hand.

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