I saved this one for last because this one actually hurts to write. Brian "Weapon X" Dawkins is without a doubt my favorite player growing up.
The definition of a true professional, Dawkins brought his lunch pale to work every day. He is a quiet, measured, temperate and a deep man of faith off the field. However, his reckless abandon style of hitting and overwhelming passion helped lead his defenses over the years.
Dawkins was free to walk after the Philadelphia Eagles decided his best years were behind him. He brought veteran leadership to a young Denver Broncos team after he concluded his 13-year career in Philadelphia.
"Weapon X" was Dawkins' nickname due to his ability to transform into what he believed was his alter ego between the lines. In case you're not sure what the heck I'm referring to with Dawkins' alter ego, just watch this video.
Warning: You might have the sudden urge to leave your feet and lay out someone near you after this video.
He's the type of player that can steal the hearts of Philadelphians everywhere, which, by the way, is not an easy task. His passion rubbed off on fans in Denver just as effectively.
Unfortunately, I believe Dawkins cannot maintain his high level of play within a young defense. He's ran into some injury problems in recent years and has been unable to consistently stay healthy.
He could easily become a member of the media or get involved elsewhere. Either way the NFL will lose a great professional, an eight-time Pro Bowler and passionate player within the league if he actually did retire in 2012.
Justin Sparks is an NFL Featured Columnist. Follow him on Twitter for all things NFL and more.
Here's to hoping I'm wrong.