Brian Dawkins: Great Career, Great Denver Bronco and Most Importantly, Great Man
It's unfortunate that all good things have to come to an end, but much like the last drop of ice cream on a cone or the last ride at an amusement park, great NFL careers must also eventually come to an end.
Although no retirement announcement from Dawkins is imminent, we as Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles fans can look back on an impassioned man who had a great career in the NFL.
Dawkins was one of the NFL's "good guys." The purpose of this article, therefore, is to look back at some of the highlights of a man who wasn't just a great leader and role model on the field, but perhaps even better off it.
Although No. 20 played the majority of his career in Philadelphia, as an Eagle, his time in the NFL is no less remarkable.
As an Eagle, he played for 13 seasons and started in 182 of his 183 games, recording 898 tackles, 34 interceptions and 21 sacks. Moreover, in 2002, in a game against the Houston Texans, he became the first individual at his position to have a sack, a forced fumble, an interception and a touchdown reception, all in one game.
Dawkins signed with the Denver Broncos in 2009 and his level of consistent play has continued, despite some age-related setbacks and injuries. Dawkins played in all 16 games for the Broncos that year, racking up 116 tackles and two interceptions—good enough to be named to his eighth Pro Bowl.
While his 2010 was shortened by injury, he still posted a solid 66 tackles and two interceptions in 11 games.
As good as Dawkins has been on the field, he strives to be an even better person off it and in the locker room. During his time with the Broncos, he has become well-known for his motivational leadership.
"He has great messages," nose tackle Jamal Williams said during an interview with the Denver Post last October. "The energy he brings to his messages, its like there is a fire inside."
Dawkins and his pregame speeches are often noted for the fact that he uses no profanity or R-rated language—something that really speaks for Dawkins' strong evangelical Christian faith.
However, Dawkins wasn't always such a strong Christian leader. He mentions that, during his rookie season in Philadelphia, he contemplated suicide.
"I had suicidal thoughts for most of my rookie year," he said. "I was on medication for the year."
In spite of the fact that he should have been on top of the world, what with his new NFL career, Dawkins felt the everyday stress of daily life take a toll.
"I was a young man, newly married, a new father, family issues, money issues," he recalls. "I was drinking...I was a person who did not know how to handle it."
He said that the turning point in his life came not with the success of being a professional athlete, but when he decided to take his faith in God to the next level. "I made the decision to get serious about my relationship with God and start to think about everything I do and say being a reflection of Him."
Today, Dawkins' Christian faith is a very important part of who he is, and he strives to be a good example wherever he goes.
Brian Dawkins is a refreshing example of the type of leader that the NFL needs—one who not only has an inspiring competitive fire, but also a God-given zest for life.
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