The big storyline for this year’s Super Bowl, besides all the Peyton Manning stuff, was defensive end Dwight Freeney’s ankle. Was he going to play? How effective would he be? How big would the swelling be? Would it ever be as bad as this?
In the end, Freeney played, but he clearly wasn’t himself. He showed flashes when he sacked Drew Brees on a key third down play in the first half that held New Orleans to a field goal, but otherwise, he was invisible. As it turns out, according to ESPN’s Elizabeth Merrill, Freeney’s ankle got worse during the extra-long halftime break.
Blame it on The Who — or long Super Bowl halftimes, in general. Freeney showed shades of his Pro-Bowl self early in the second quarter, when he bull-rushed Saints quarterback Drew Brees, snagged the shoulder of his jersey, and dropped the eventual game MVP with one arm. The Saints, who knew immediately that Freeney wasn’t a decoy, had already started double-teaming the defensive end by the second possession of the game.
But then came halftime, all 30 minutes of it, and Freeney’s ankle began to stiffen.
“I don’t know if you saw me on the sidelines,” Freeney said of warmup attempts early in the second half. “I kept on running back and forth to get it going again. I re-taped, and tried to figure out ways to keep it warm. The problem is, once it gets stiff, it’s tough to bring it back.”
I thought The Who’s halftime show was only painful for viewers. I didn’t realize it was also painful for the players.