As expected, safety Brian Dawkins has retired after a 16-year career that included 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles (1996-2008), and the final three seasons with the Denver Broncos (2009-2011).
Dawkins called Broncos head coach John Fox this morning to inform him of the decision and then posted the following message on his Twitter:
“The Lord has blessed me to play in the NFL for 16 years. I would like to thank the Eagles & the Broncos 4 believing In me. I would like 2 thank all my teammates & Coaches that I have been blessed 2 go to battle with. Along with u, the fans 4 helping make my career 1 that i have enjoyed tremendously. In other words. I am announcing my retirement from the NFL. #BBTB”
Dawkins added that he is not the kind of guy who retires and then unretires. He’s done.
He said that he is in 100 percent health and rumors of his ailing health as reason for his retirement are not true. “That may sound crazy,” he said. “But knowing I can still play this game at least another year gave me a lot of peace. It’d be better to step away a year too early than a year too late.”
Throughout his career, Dawkins was selected to nine Pro Bowls (seven with Philly and two with Denver), and six All-Pro teams (five with Philly and one with Denver).
He has been feared throughout his career for his trademark safety blitz. His ability to blitz from his position at free safety has resulted in 26 career sacks, almost unheard of for a defensive back.
In a 2002 game against the Houston Texans, he became the first and only player in the history of the NFL to record a sack, an interception, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown reception in the same game.
The single biggest play of Dawkins’ career came in overtime in the divisional round of the playoffs in 2003, when he intercepted future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre on the first play of overtime and returned the pass 35 yards to set up David Akers’ game-winning field goal. The Eagles advanced to their third straight NFC Championship Game.
It was in 2008 when Dawkins became just the ninth member of the 20/20 club—20 sacks and 20 interceptions in an NFL career. He also broke the Eagles’ career record for most games played, playing in 201 games, including the postseason.
Dawkins’ fierce competitiveness, size, and strength have resulted in some of the biggest hits in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles. He covered like a cornerback and hit like a linebacker. In 2004, the Sporting News named Brian Dawkins No. 1 on the list of “Guys You Don’t Want Bearing Down On You.”
No fan will ever forget his incredible hit on Falcons’ tight end Alge Crumpler in the 2004 NFC championship game, or his speech after the Eagles advanced to Super Bowl XXXIX:
“I give all the credit to Michael Vick, we gave him the most respect. But nobody respected us as a defense! Give me some respect right now!
“I’ll tell you what. I wanted to set a tone. We wanted to set a tone as a defense. It’s not just me, it’s the defense, it’s my line, it’s Burgess, it’s Kearse, all them boys, Trot, we came and we brought it, every doggone play!”
And no Eagles fan will ever forget how disappointed they were when Dawkins wasn’t re-signed after the 2008 season. The team has not yet been able to replace him at the free safety position and probably won’t for a long period of time, if ever.
With the Broncos, Dawkins was an awesome force in the locker room. Quarterback Tim Tebow is credited with the Broncos’ incredible run to the postseason last season, but even Tebow himself would tell you that Dawkins was the more important leader.
Dawkins’ last team was the Broncos but he will likely sign a one-day contract in the future to retire as a member of the Eagles.
An excerpt from Dawkins’ conference call with Philadelphia writers: “One of the things that I’ve been blessed with or cursed with is I played with all of my emotions on my sleeve, and you can kind of read me pretty easily by the way I’m feeling on game day.
“I like to try my best to not disappoint people. I purposely try and go out and do my best to make sure my coaches, teammates and fans know that I gave it my all on the football field.
“With me playing as long as I did in Philadelphia, I heard what they said. I didn’t just hear it, I heard and listened to what they said. I felt the pain they had from past failures and the way they are treated sometimes in the media. I heard those things, and I took it to heart and I understood them.
“The thing that I always wanted to do is to go out and put a certain product on the field to have those certain entities proud of me when the game was over. Hopefully, I have poured everything emotionally and physically out on the field.”
Dawkins has stated his desire to continue living in Denver, where he will coach his son’s high school football team.
The Eagles will honor Dawkins before the season’s fourth game, at home, against the New York Giants on September 30th.