Enlarged heart sidelines former Wayne, OSU star Freeman

Huber Heights native and former Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman had a lifelong dream of playing in the NFL. The dream became somewhat of a reality when he was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the fifth round of the 2009 draft.

Freeman saw action in all four preseason games with the Bears, but was waived before the start of the regular season. He was later signed to the Buffalo Bills practice squad and ended up finishing the season on the Houston Texans practice squad.

The linebacker drew considerable interest from teams once the season was over and decided to sign with the Indianapolis Colts. It was at that time Freeman learned he would never play football again. Freeman went in for a physical in early February and was diagnosed by a Colts team physician as having an enlarged heart valve.

“It was hard to hear that football was being taken away, but life is much bigger than that for me,” Freeman said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “Sooner or later you’re going to be done. I have enjoyed playing the game since I was six years old. Even though I can’t play anymore I still have a love and a passion for it. I’ll just turn the page to the next chapter in my life.”

Freeman went on to say that he was told no team would pass him with his medical condition. He said he was thankful the doctors caught it before something tragic happened.

The former Wayne High School star hoped for a career of longevity in the league but it all came to an abrupt halt with the news. Freeman has indeed turned the page to the next chapter in his life. He married his college sweetheart, Joanna Freeman, on Feb. 20. The two are the proud parents of 2 ½-year old Vincent Freeman, a.k.a Buddy.

Although Freeman’s playing days are over, he hasn’t strayed far from the game. He’s trading in his uniform for the infamous Tressel sweater vest. Freeman will work as an undergraduate assistant on the Buckeyes football coaching staff this season.

"Coach (Jim) Tressel gave me the opportunity to be on the staff,” Freeman said. “It’s a lot different than playing, but it’s exciting because it gives me the chance to stay close to football. You feel like you’re a part of the team since playing football was taken away from me so quickly. Hopefully, one day I can become a coach.”

Despite having three knee surgeries in college, Freeman had a productive playing career while at Ohio State. He’s three classes away from obtaining his master’s degree in sports management and has no regrets.

“I think you have to find the positive in everything,” Freeman said. “God has a plan for everybody and this was his plan for me. You can’t have football as the head of your life because that can be taken away at any moment. My family and religion definitely comes first in my life. I can still be successful without playing the game. I’m excited and motivated about starting my new life.”

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