Brian Dawkins announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday and will return to the Novacare Complex to retire as an Eagle on April 28th, and his number will be retired during the team’s 4th home game this season.
Perhaps no player in the history of the franchise so embodied the Philadelphia Eagles than Brian Dawkins. After spending 13 of his 16 NFL seasons in Philadelphia, on Monday Dawkins announced his retirement.
“The Lord has blessed me to play in the NFL for 16 years.” Dawkins said via his Twitter account. “I would like to thank the Eagles and the Broncos for believing in me. I would like to thank all my teammates and coaches that I have been blessed to go to battle with. Along with you, the fans for helping make my career one that I have enjoyed tremendously. in other words, I am announcing my retirement from the NFL.”
On the field, Dawkins was the unquestioned leader of some of the most dominant defenses in franchise history. Over his career in Philadelphia and Denver the man known by fans and teammates for his on field persona ‘Weapon X’ amassed 37 interceptions, 26 sacks, forced 37 fumbles, and made eight trips to the Pro Bowl.
It’s no doubt then that Dawkins will return to Philadelphia to officially retire as an Eagle this Saturday at the Novacare Complex. No Eagle has worn the number 20 since Dawkins’ departure via free agency following the 2008 season and the team plans on honoring him and retiring his number during a nationally televised game on September 30 against the Giants at Lincoln Financial Field.
“Brian Dawkins is one of my all-time favorite players and one of the best to ever put on an Eagles uniform. On the field, in many ways, Brian re-invented the safety position,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. “His love for the game was infectious and he poured his entire heart and soul into everything he was doing from the moment he entered the stadium until he left. Everyone who ever watched Brian play saw that and it was impossible not to love that about him. He was one of the best leaders to ever play here. “
Dawkins was drafted by Philadelphia in the second round out of Clemson 1996. There is no question that Dawkins reinvented the safety position under late defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Now only was Dawkins one of the most feared players in the defensive backfield across the league, Johnson used his speed and strength as a weapon in the run game and in his blitzkrieg style pass rush.
All told, during his time in Midnight Green, Dawkins finished as the Eagles career leader in both games (183) and interceptions (34). It’s no wonder that Dawkins was a five time All Pro selection, after averaging close to 100 tackles per season during his tenure in the City of Brotherly Love. In a 2002 game against the Houston Texans at Veterans Stadium, Dawkins became the first and only player in NFL history to record a sack, intercept a pass, recover a fumble and catch a touchdown pass in the same game.
In 2008, Dawkins made history again, becomming just the ninth member of the 20/20 club- 20 sacks and 20 interceptions in his NFL career, en route to his fourth trip to the NFC Championship game.
Certainly a Hall of Fame worthy resume that will be reviewed for the next five or so years.
“He was one of the most dedicated and hardest working players I have ever coached.” Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid said. “Whether it was on the practice field, the film room or the weight room, Brian always put in the extra hours it took to become the star player that he was. And he transferred all of that and more onto the field on Sundays. He poured everything he could into doing whatever was best for his teammates and this organization. He was the unquestioned leader of our defense. He will go down as one of the greatest Eagles of all-time and I have no doubt we’ll be celebrating his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
A consumate leader in the locker room, Dawkins was as beloved by the fans as he was by his teammates. In 2007, Dawkins was voted to the team’s 75th anniversary team.
Now with his NFL career behind him, Dawkins plans on continuing to reside in Denver where he will coach his son’s high school football team.
Matt Lombardo is the Lead Writer for Taking It To The House. Matt is also a Producer for 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Follow Matt on Twitter @MattLombardoPHL or Email him at MDLombardo@yahoo.com