Freeman McNeil
No. 24
Position:Running back
Personal information
Born: (1959-04-22) April 22, 1959 (age 64)
Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:216 lb (98 kg)
Career information
High school:Phineas Banning
(Los Angeles, California)
College:UCLA (1977–1980)
NFL Draft:1981 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing Yards:8,074
Player stats at

Freeman McNeil (born April 22, 1959) is an American former professional football player who was a running back for the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the UCLA Bruins. He was selected by the Jets in the first round of the 1981 NFL Draft with the third overall pick.

Early life

McNeil was born in Jackson, Mississippi. His family later relocated to Los Angeles, California.

McNeil led Banning High School to the 1976 Los Angeles City 4-A football title.[1] At 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m), 214 lb (97 kg) he attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as a running back, where he was a two-time All-Pac-10 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.

In four seasons at UCLA, McNeil rushed for 3,195 yards and 21 touchdowns, with an average of more than 5 yards per carry.[2]

Professional career

McNeil played in 12 NFL seasons for the New York 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.[3] The suit is considered a major step in the achievement of free agency rights by the NFL Players Association.[4]

Honors and awards

In 2005, McNeil was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame.[5]


  1. ^ Bayless, Skip (February 16, 1977). "And the Beat Goes On and On". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. pp. 48, 51. Retrieved 9 July 2023.
  2. ^ "Freeman McNeil College Stats".
  3. ^ Bell, Jarrett (April 3, 2011). "Freeman McNeil sees history repeating in NFL labor dispute". USA Today. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  4. ^ "NFL labor history since 1968". ESPN. Associated Press. March 3, 2011. Archived from the original on January 11, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  5. ^ "John Genzale: Inside Out". 4 April 2005. Retrieved 17 September 2016. Freeman McNeil and Gene Mayer get inducted into the county's hall of fame.