Antonio Freeman Reflects on Changes in Packers’ Career
Receiver Antonio Freeman finished his Green Bay Packers career with 431 receptions, 6,651 yards and 57 touchdowns in eight seasons. After earning the bulk of his success during his first seven seasons in Green Bay, Freeman played one season (2002) for the Philadelphia Eagles before facing an awkward return for one final season with the Packers.
Freeman went from being the Packers No. 1 receiver to a role player with the Eagles to the low man on the totem pole in his final Packers season. That year, Freeman didn’t start a game and caught only 14 balls for 141 yards, his lowest output since his rookie season.
The return to Green Bay was tough for Freeman.
“I was nervous,” said Freeman. “It’s hard to go back to somewhere you’re the man and to go back and not be the man, it’s humbling, but it helped me prepare for retirement. It helped me prepare for life after football.”
Freeman parted ways with the Packers after he refused to take a pay cut — something veteran Donald Driver was forced to do this season. Freeman seems to regret the decision, but thinks Driver made the right one.
“Donald is a smart man and he made a smart decision,” Freeman said. “He’s just one of those special, special guys that whether he has one catch or 11 catches, you don’t hear Donald Driver. It’s those types of things that give you an edge when you’re negotiating late in your contract years and I didn’t have that same leverage Donald Driver had. I was the highest paid receiver in 1999 and it’s a long slide to come down from that and say, ‘I’m going to play for the league minimum.’”
To some degree, things worked out for Freeman, as he was able to end his career with the Packers.
Freeman currently serves as an analyst for Baltimore Ravens games, but hopes to one day serve in the same capacity for Packers games.