Brian Dawkins to retire as an Eagle

by Alex Young

The best player to wear midnight green will officially go out as an Eagle. It was announced today that Brian Dawkins will sign a one-day contract to retire with the team he spent his first 13 years in the league with. His number 20 jersey will also be retired during halftime of a game next year. I don’t think there is a player that deserves it more than Dawkins.

If Dawkins wasn’t the face of the franchise, he was certainly the heart, soul and spine of the team. Not only will he go down as one of the best safeties in the league’s history, but also as one of the best leaders. By the time his career with the Eagles was done he might not have been the same All-Pro player he was in years past, but the Eagles still have yet to replace what Dawkins brought to the huddle and the field. Dawkins played with fire and he never backed down. His teammates couldn’t help but  respect him.

There could not have been a player better suited for the Eagles and Jim Johnson’s defense than Dawkins. He had the speed and cover ability to be a Pro Bowl corner. He had the strength and hitting power to be run-stopping linebacker. If the Eagles needed a sack, fumble or interception Dawkins was the man to get it. In a 2002 game against the Texans, he became the first player in NFL history to record all three as well as score a touchdown.

There are only five players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who made it in strictly as safeties. Dawkins is sure to become the sixth. He is a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and a four-time All-Pro. He holds Eagle team records for interception with 34 and for games-played by a non-kicker with 183.

The thing I’ll remember Dawkins for the most was when the Eagles played the Cowboys to end the 2008 regular season. The winner would make the playoffs. The Eagles completely annihilated the Cowboys, 44-6. After every Eagle score, when “Fly Eagles Fly” was playing, Dawkins was on the sideline pounding his chest and signing along with the crowd. He loved this city and loved the Eagles’ fans.

He left for Denver a few weeks later. It was one of the saddest days in my Philly sports life.  which makes him retiring as an Eagle that much sweeter. It’s like he never left.

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