Freeman McNeil

Freeman McNeil

Freeman McNeil
No. 24
Position: Running back
Personal information
Date of birth: (1959-04-22) April 22, 1959
Place of birth: Jackson, Mississippi
Career information
College: UCLA
NFL draft: 1981 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing Yards: 8,074
Average: 4.5
Touchdowns: 38
Stats at

Freeman McNeil (born April 22, 1959) is a former professional American football player who was selected by the New York Jets in the first round as the third overall pick of the 1981 NFL Draft.

After leading Banning High School to the Los Angeles City football title, the 5'11", 214 lbs. running back attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he was a two-time all-Pacific-10 Conference selection. In his final game, he caught a deflected pass from quarterback Jay Schroeder that was tipped by USC defensive back Jeff Fisher and went 57 yards for the winning touchdown with two minutes left in the Bruins' 20–17 win.

McNeil played in 12 NFL seasons for the Jets from 1981 to 1992. During the mid to late 1980s he was a member of the Jets' "Two Headed Monster" backfield along with teammate Johnny Hector, a tandem that ranked among the league's elite. When he retired he was the Jets all-time leading rusher with 8,074 yards; he was surpassed by Curtis Martin and currently ranks second in Jets team history. In 1982, McNeil led the NFL in rushing with 786 yards. He was the first Jet to the lead the league in rushing. He is one of a few running backs in NFL history to average 4.0 yards per carry in every season he played.

From 1990 to 1992 McNeil was the lead plaintiff in a case won by jury verdict that struck down the NFL's Plan B free agency system, under which teams could protect 37 players. McNeil and the seven other plaintiffs were among the protected players listed by their teams. The system was deemed too restrictive and a violation of antitrust laws. However, Freeman was not one of the four plaintiffs awarded damages.[1] The suit is considered a major step in the achievement of free agency rights by the NFL Players Association.[2]

In 2005, he was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame. Freeman currently lives in Huntington, NY on Long Island.


  1. ^ Jarrett Bell (April 3, 2011). "Freeman McNeil sees history repeating in NFL labor dispute".  
  2. ^ Associated Press (March 3, 2011). "NFL labor history since 1968". ESPN. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011. 
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Clark Gaines/Scott Dierking
New York Jets Starting Running Back
Succeeded by
Blair Thomas/Brad Baxter