On Sept. 30, during halftime of a nationally televised NBC “Sunday Night Football” game against NFC East rivals, the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles will honor nine-time Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins, whose No. 20 jersey will be retired that day. Kick-off is 8:20 p.m.
Back in April, Dawkins, who last played for the Denver Broncos, signed a one-day ceremonial contract in April to officially retire a member of the Eagles, and said at a press conference at the NovaCare Complex, “The Philadelphia Eagles — they’ve been in existence for a long time and a lot of people have worn that number throughout that time. To know that now, because of the way the Lord blessed me to play this game, nobody will ever wear it again. That’s an honor, what an honor.”
Dawkins also paid tribute to the late Jim Johnson, formerly the revered defensive coach of the Eagles. “He saw something in me and began to use me in a different way than a lot of safeties were being used at that time. He believed in me,” Dawkins said. “The thing that I’ve always carried and always been as a player is a person who didn’t want to disappoint his coaches and gentlemen. I didn’t want to disappoint y’all.
“Why did I play with so much emotion? Why did I do all of that? Because I loved to do what I do and loved playing with my teammates. I loved playing with them. In Jim, I found that individual that believed in me to use me. When the game was on the line, the reason that I made so many big plays in crunch time is because Jim continued to call my number in crunch time. He knew I would do whatever it took and I would give up my body parts if I had to just to make sure his blitzes went on. I can thank him for that.”
After 16 bone-crushing seasons in the NFL, Dawkins, 38, no longer puts on the pads, but he is staying close to the game that he loves as an NFL analyst for ESPN. According to the network, he will appear on studio programs throughout the year such as “SportsCenter,” “NFL Live,” “Audibles” and NFL32.”
“I am so blessed and excited to say that I’ll now be working at a place that I’ve watched for as long as I can remember,” Dawkins said. “All the things that led me to have a pretty successful NFL career, I plan on bringing to this next phase of my life. New challenges!”
For now however, Eagles fans are looking forward to honoring their beloved safety whose alter-ego, “The Wolverine,” would order his teammates to “act a fool” during his pre-game rituals, speak “in tongues” during the games, play with such passion and hit with such force that he would almost knock himself out. He epitomized pro football in Philly. Dawkins, the eighth player in franchise history to have his jersey retired, will address those devoted fans during a halftime ceremony at Sunday’s primetime showdown against the Giants.
“Brian Dawkins is one of my all-time favorite players and one of the best to ever put on an Eagles uniform,” said Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. “On the field, in many ways, Brian re-invented the safety position. He had the speed and athleticism to line up against the game’s best receivers, and was equally effective in the run game. 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 one who ever watched Brian play saw that and it was impossible not to love that about him. He was one of the best leaders ever to play here.
“Off the field, it is no secret that Brian was a fan favorite. But as much as the fans loved him, I can tell you that he loved them back with equal intensity. His transformation from a mild-mannered, humble man during the week to an energized, ferocious spark plug on game days was evidence of that. We have been working with Brian for a few weeks and look forward to honoring him in front of our fans as one of the greatest Eagles ever when we play the Giants on Sept. 30.