Freeman enjoys time in XFL
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
He’s found his football home.
After graduating from Georgia Tech where he was a four-year starter, former Callaway Cavalier KeShun Freeman tried to make a go of it in the NFL, but he was released by the New Orleans Saints shortly before the start of the 2018 season.
Freeman then joined the Atlanta Legends of the Alliance of American Football, but that experience was short-lived, with the league folding halfway through its debut season in 2019.
While disappointed with the way that went down, Freeman wasn’t disillusioned, and he remained committed to a sport that’s been such a massively important part of his life.
So when another new league came calling, Freeman didn’t hesitate.
The decision to join the XFL has brought a lot of joy into Freeman’s life, although the league is one of the many victims of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The season was halfway over when the decision was made to suspend play, and Freeman and his teammates on the DC Defenders finished with a 3-2 record.
“Nobody was going to come to the games, but we thought we’d be able to go,” Freeman said. “Before the game, coach (Pep) Hamilton told us, guys there will definitely be a game this weekend, so we were prepared to play a game with no fans against Dallas, but they ended up telling us we have to suspend (the league). We were kind of hopeful that we could come back, but there were no promises. And then it was over the next day.”
Freeman, who was a starting linebacker for the Defenders, said being a part of the XFL “was a really great experience.”
That experience began when Freeman was drafted by the Defenders in October, and training camp started in January leading up to the season opener in February.
“Once we got through the rigorous training camp, and we started playing the games, everything was way beyond any expectation I had of the league,” Freeman said. “There was so much energy. People were calling saying this is so much fun. It was an amazing experience.
“It really re-shaped football for me. I think one of the themes of the league was for love of football, and they were able to connect the fans, the players, and everything, the media. That was really fun.”
Freeman is hoping to return to the Defenders next season, and a league statement last week said “the XFL is committed to playing a full season in 2021 and future years.”
“If you’ve ever seen a DC Defenders game. Wow,” Freeman said. “That was an atmosphere like no other. It was amazing. They loved us there. You couldn’t go anywhere without people saying, are you a DC Defender?”
For Freeman, being a high-profile athlete not only fulfills his desire to compete, but it also allows him to make a difference in the community. Helping children in whatever way possible is a driving force in Freeman’s life, and he was continuing that quest with his new team.
“Our last game, I had about 13 foster kids at the game, and the following week I got to bring them to the hotel, and they got to meet my teammates, and we had a blast,” Freeman said. “Had the season gone on more, we would have brought more and more kids. Just to have the impact on the community meant a lot.”
Football, Freeman said, is “much more than a game. Scoring touchdowns, and getting sacks is nice, but the most positive thing, the most gratifying thing is to impact the lives of people that are watching, and inspire kids, and just let them know that someone is working on their behalf.”
Part of the desire to help comes from the inspiration provided by his younger brother, Landon Freeman, who was adopted when he was an infant.
Landon fought a host of health issues when he was a baby, but he’s a teenager now and thriving, and he has three older brothers to look after him.
“That’s my buddy,” Freeman said of his youngest brother. “Landon has never called me KeShun, he’s always called me big brother. He still calls me big brother to this day, and I wouldn’t be surprised if later his kids call me big brother.”
KeShun’s other two brothers have also excelled in football.
Michael Freeman, like KeShun a standout linebacker at Callaway, is preparing for his senior season as a member of the Mercer football team.
Jacob Freeman, meanwhile, is a versatile player who has signed with Georgia State University and will join the team this fall. Jacob Freeman was a wide receiver, defensive back, and quarterback during his time at Callaway.
“I look at my little brothers, and I’m so proud of them,” KeShun Freeman said. “Me, Michael and Jacob, even thought we were all great athletes in high school, we were totally different growing up. Everybody wants to put us in the box as being the same, but they were able to create their own style, and their own names, and make it work for them.”
“Michael loves college. He spends a lot of time there. He made a name for himself. We had a conversation the other day, and it blows my mind how mature he’s become. Jacob was the one that was totally different from me and Michael. He said I’m not just going to be a defensive player, I’m going to play everything. And he’s done those things. My brothers, I’m proud of them. They’re really making big names for themselves.”
KeShun Freeman has had an exceptional football journey of his own.
Freeman was an all-state player at Callaway, and he led the team to a spot in the Class AA semifinals as a senior in 2013.
Freeman then stepped right into the starting lineup at Georgia Tech, and he helped the team win 11 games as a freshman, and the team capped that season by beating Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl.
Freeman also helped Georgia Tech win nine games in 2016, and a highlight of that season was a second win at Georgia in three years.
Freeman is now a few years into his professional football career, and he’s hoping he has plenty of time remaining to play the sport that has been such a special part of his life.
“As long as I can play ball, I’d love to play ball,” Freeman said. “I enjoy it so much. I’ll stick with it as long as my body’s healthy. I’ve talked to older veterans who played in the NFL, and they said that ending moment could be at any time. As long as you fight, just play like every day is your ending moment. So I’ll continue to fight, because I don’t want my ending moment to happen anytime soon.”