Brian Dawkins: Thanks for the Memories

Bryn SwartzSenior Writer IIIFebruary 28, 2009

It's official, Eagles' fans. Brian Dawkins is no longer a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. ESPN reported several hours ago that the Denver Broncos signed seven-time Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins to a five-year, $17-million dollar deal.

The deal could reach as high as $27 million if Dawkins reaches some "achievable performance levels."

And now we have reached the end of an era—the official conclusion of the Brian Dawkins era in Philadelphia. Dawkins had been an Eagle for his entire career—13 seasons. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the 1996 NFL draft.


During his 13 years in Philadelphia, Dawkins earned seven Pro Bowl selections. Five times he was named First Team All-Pro. 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.


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 20 career sacks, almost unheard of for a defensive back.


In 2008, 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 covers like a cornerback and hits 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.”


Now, thanks to a little bit of "luck," Donovan McNabb and the rest of the Philadelphia Eagles will get to see Brian Dawkins bearing down on them for 60 minutes next season. Yup, that's right. Every four years we play the Denver Broncos. That's next year.


I don't know who I'm more frustrated at right now. The Eagles are $40 million under the cap. And we couldn't use one-tenth of that to sign arguably the most popular player in the history of Philadelphia sports?


That's not just ridiculous. That's flat out unacceptable.


I've talked to a few Bronco fans. They think they're lucky. They think they got a 35-year-old safety on the decline, who hopefully can still make a few plays for them next season.


They don't get it. Brian Dawkins isn't just about his talent—and by the way, I would argue that he hasn't lost a single step over the years, not one.


He is about the leadership, on the field and off the field. The Denver Broncos acquired not only a future Hall of Fame safety, but probably the best motivational speaker in the game today.


I quote one of my favorite Weapon X lines—"If you got something in you that says we ain't winning this game, you need to get that out of you right now!"


Dawkins is about the winning. He knows how to win, and because of his presence on (and off) the field, his teammates play better.


Thirteen years. That's how long Brian Dawkins was an Eagle. I'm only 19. I can't remember a single game without Brian Dawkins on the roster.


I love Lurie and Banner. I believe Lurie is one of the best owners in the game today, and that Banner is one of the best general managers in the NFL. But I don't understand what they were thinking. I just don't get it.


Signing Dawkins wasn't a want. It was a necessity. It was more important than bolstering the offensive line. It was more important than replacing LJ Smith at tight end. It was even more important than signing a big-name wide receiver for Donovan.


I don't even know what to feel anymore. Do I root for the Broncos to do well next season? Am I supposed to pick a new all-time favorite athlete? How can I watch the Weapon X video without feeling a small sense of betrayal?


I'm new to this. I've had my heart broken by the Eagles before—on game days. Every January. I'm used to that. I expect that. But this is a completely new feeling.


I now understand how Packers fans feel when they look at Brett Favre in a Jets jersey. I can't even picture Brian Dawkins in orange and blue.


There is no loyalty in sports anymore.


Lurie and Banner, you promised us multiple championships 15 years ago. Where are they?


You've made mistakes. Terrell Owens. Freddie Mitchell. Kevin Kolb. It happens.


But this is one that I cannot overlook. When Brian Dawkins left the Philadelphia Eagles, a small part of me died. I just lost every ounce of excitement for the 2009 season.


We didn't even put up a fight to keep Weapon X.


Now I lost just about every bit of respect I ever had for the Eagles organization.