The Chargers' Dwight Freeney said that playing for coach Mike McCoy was a joy in 2013.
Freeney turns 34 on Feb. 19, and wants to end his playing career on his terms.
“I just want to make sure I end it the right way,” Freeney said. “That means I’m not fighting an injury and limping off of the field -- making sure that I don’t have a bad taste in my mouth when I’m saying, ‘You know what, I’m done. I’ve accomplished everything.’
“I’ve won a Super Bowl. I’ve done the Pro Bowls. I’ve done the top in sacks and all of that stuff. I just want to make sure that when I’m done, I can say, ‘You know what, I’m done and it’s been a great ride.’”
Freeney is in the second year of a two-year deal that will pay him $3.5 million in non-guaranteed salary in 2014. Part of the reason he wants to return is San Diego’s surprising playoff run last season, and the fact that he believes the Chargers could be Super Bowl contenders in 2014.
“We have great management,” he said. “I’m not sure about the management prior to [this one], but we have [general manager] Tom Telesco and we have [head coach] Mike McCoy, and those guys make it a family atmosphere. You go in and you want to go to work, you want to play for this guy. And we have a lot of great leaders on that team -- Eric Weddle and Donald Butler. We have some guys who can make plays and have some experience out there -- Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates.
“So we have some cornerstones on that team. Now we have to go out and win some more of those big games. And really, honestly, the biggest problem with us is that teams that we’re supposed to beat, we play around with them. And that’s how we get those couple losses that we’re not supposed to get. But the teams that are good, we play very well and beat.”
Freeney also discussed what it was like for him to play with Rivers for the first time.
“Philip’s my guy,” Freeney said. “The thing is, he just has taken on that new system. And Philip does a great job, and he had a career year. I don’t know where his numbers were compared to years past, but he’s now in a system where he has more freedom to make those throws that he wants to make, and be able to dictate what he wants to do.
“He gets emotional a little bit up there, and he loves what he does. He’s so passionate about what he does. And that’s why sometimes it maybe comes off the wrong way. But he’s an amazing guy.”
Freeney also offered an interesting opinion when asked for his Super Bowl prediction between Seattle and Denver.
“I want Peyton [Manning] to win,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re going to win. If you look at the formula that has given that offense problems -- and believe me, I’ve seen it being around -- it’s teams that control the ball and have really good corners on their defense that gives them problems.”