Dwight Freeney: ‘I still love the game. I still love to play’

In only 317 snaps last season, free agent defensive end Dwight Freeney registered eight sacks. So one would assume he would have already been signed by a team for the 2016 season, but Freeney, 36, joined The Jim Rome Show and explained why he believes he’s still waiting on an organization to sign him.

“I stopped trying to figuring out this NFL a long time ago. It’s weird,” Freeney laughed. “The only part that I get is the fact that they like younger people. This is the game where regardless of what you produce as an old veteran, for the most part, they want to get that new young future. So they also think about not just now, they think about the future five, six years from now, and that’s what they gamble on.”

Freeney believes teams focus on the wrong numbers sometimes.

“Unfortunately, for guys like me who can go in there and still produce and still play, it doesn’t work to our benefit, because they’re only looking at one major thing which is the age,” Freeney said. “They look at the statistics and how many guys play at that age and all this other stuff which doesn’t work in my benefit.

“So I understand it, I don’t like it. I wish it would change a little bit, have a little bit more loyalty to the older guys, guys who’ve done it. It’s a proven product, you know what you’re going to get from them. But I understand it from their side too, so it’s just part of the nature of the beast.”

Having won a Super Bowl, been named to 7 Pro Bowls, and recorded 120.5 career sacks, Freeney explained what still drives him to play the sport.

“I still love the game. I still love to play. It’s a game that I’ve been blessed to be able to play,” Freeney said. “I talked to Howie Long at some point, I think earlier this year, and he said hey man if you still love it, all this other stuff, TV, all this other stuff is going to be there. But once you’re done playing ball, you’re done forever. So if you still have some type of feeling inside you where you’re still excited about going out and doing it, than continue to do it.

“I kind of looked at that like, this is Howie Long, Hall of Famer, legend of the game. I’m going to listen to this man if I’m going to listen anybody. And I went back out there, man, this year, I went back out there to start training and getting ready for next year. I’m still excited about playing this game. Yeah, I have a Super Bowl ring and all that other stuff, but you know what, it’s not about that right now, it’s just about having fun.”

Having not signed with Arizona until October of last season, Freeney says he’d prefer not to get a late start with his next team if possible.

“I think last year I was in a situation where I had to pretty much hit a home run ball every single time; it was like bottom of the ninth, two outs every time I got onto that field,” Freeney said. “I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that they didn’t know me as well. Because they know me as a player, some of the coaches have been around me, but you still have to fit into the system and to understand how you can utilize yourself in that system and they have to trust that, and there was a little bit of that. So getting on the field was a little bit tougher last year, because I hadn’t been in training camp and mini camps, so they couldn’t put me in that situation where it fit me completely. So if I think I get signed, hopefully before that, it will benefit me because now I know the system, the coaches know me, and I get to be familiar with the guys I’m playing with and we can all gel together.”

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