But their tete-a-tete hasn’t been limited solely to the NFL.
In what would be their final years in college, Freeney, who amassed 16½ sacks in 2001 for Syracuse University, was blanked by McKinnie, who suited up for the University of Miami.
The Hurricanes won that November 17, 2001 meeting quite easily, running away with a 59-0 rout. But it was only the second time in his last 19 games that Freeney had finished a contest without a sack. Freeney didn’t even register a tackle.
“Yeah, Bryant is probably one of my first marquee matchups,” Freeney recalled during a conference call with Baltimore media Wednesday. “It goes back to college with Syracuse vs. Miami. He was the offensive tackle. He did a great job. I had a bunch of sacks going into that game, he had never given up [a sack]. They ended up winning the game, and I ended up not getting a sack. From a historical standpoint, me and him go back, and I had a game with him when he was with the Vikings. I had a couple of good games against him. Bryant is Bryant, and there is a reason why he is still playing after 30.”
Said McKinnie: “There was a lot of hype behind that game. They had a picture of him with an actual sack with all the different college helmets in it, all the teams he got sacks against. It was towards the end of my senior year, and I hadn’t allowed a sack. So they were kind of like, ‘Something is bound to happen. He’s either going to get a sack or you’re going to continue to not allow the sack.’ The [Syracuse] team was OK that year, but it was more of a focus on our battle. I was home, so I managed to get through that game without a sack.”
Freeney has enjoyed better success against McKinnie in the NFL. In two meetings between Indianapolis and the Minnesota Vikings, Freeney has accumulated three sacks and six tackles. More importantly, Freeney’s team won both contests.
McKinnie acknowledged that he is looking forward to matching up against Freeney Sunday.
“You just want to be competitive,” he said. “We both bring our A-game against one another. We don’t go against each other that often, but when we do, it’s going to be high intensity. There’s a lot of focus out there.”