Orlando Pace: Toughest guy I had to block was Freeney

As the starting left tackle on the St. Louis Rams' Super Bowl teams, Orlando Pace faced some of the biggest and baddest pass rushers in the NFL. But there's one, he said, that gave more trouble than the others ... and would Dwight Freeney please step forward?

Miami Dolphins v St. Louis Cardinals

(Orlando Pace photo courtesy of the St. Louis Rams)

Talk of Fame Network

Orlando Pace not only was one of the best left tackles in the the NFL; he was so good he’s one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016 -- with the smart money on him making it to Canton next month when the Hall’s board of selectors convenes.

A five-time All-Pro, Pace was an obstacle few pass rushers could solve -- one reason the St. Louis Rams became “The Greatest Show on Turf,” Kurt Warner became a league MVP and Pace became an all-decade choice. So whom, we wanted to know when he joined us on this week’s Talk of Fame Network broadcast, was the toughest defender for him to block?

Pace not only was quick with his answer but singled out someone still playing.

“I hate to give guys real credit,” he said, “(but) if I had to guess one guy … probably from a pass blocking standpoint it was probably Dwight Freeney. I always judge defensive ends on … you know they’re going to do this move … and sometimes it was just hard to stop that spin move that he had.

“He was so low to the ground, and he would just rush up there … especially playing him up in Indianapolis. It was really tough to play him up there because of his speed and his spin move. He made it very difficult.”

Freeney, of course, plays with the Arizona Cardinals today. A situational pass rusher, he’s still collapsing the pocket, with eight sacks this season – including three vs. Green Bay and a game-clinching tackle of Teddy Bridgewater in a December defeat of Minnesota.

Pace, on the other hand, retired after the 2008 season with Chicago – his one year out of St. Louis. A member of the 2000’s all-decade team, he’s the only tackle named to that squad who is not in the Hall of Fame. Jonathan Ogden, Willie Roaf and Walter Jones are in, with Pace expected to join them soon.

“Being that we’re all in that era together – coming in in the late 90s … the early 2000s … we all kind of measure each other against each other,” Pace said. “The golden age of tackles, I believe with the passing game and “The Blind Side” and everything.

“So I think we’re all in that same category. I know those other guys are in the Hall of Fame, and, hopefully, one day I’ll get that opportunity as well.”