Future Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins did not leave the Philadelphia Eagles for the five-year contract he received from the Denver Broncos.
"I would love to have a ring," Dawkins said. "I would love to finish it all with a ring."
At the ripe age of 35, many feel Dawkins is on his last gasp. There has been talk of him "slowing down" or "not being what he used to be," but there is little doubt he is still capable of running around with the best on the field.
During his 13-year tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dawkins was part of 10 playoff teams, five NFC Championship games, and one Super Bowl participant.
In that time, he has developed a reputation as one of the hardest hitting safeties in the league and has earned the nickname "Weapon X" among others.
Since Dawkins is one of just a few Broncos players with significant playoff experience, he knows the importance of proper preparation for the grueling NFL season.
"From this time of year, it's really honestly about dedication. Dedicating yourself to the potential of us doing what we need to do and to getting to the playoffs," Dawkins said.
"What I mean by that dedication is your workouts need to be intense. You can't not work out for a period of time and think, 'I'm going to be all right.' You can't think, 'I've got all the plays down' and not study them. And you have to take care of your body, and what that means is getting the proper sleep and eating the right things."
Along with Dawkins, the Broncos brought in three new safeties to help a group that was arguably the worst in the NFL in 2008. Those players include rookies Darcel McBath and David Bruton, and veteran Renaldo Hill. Dawkins says it is a big part of their development to have veteran leadership.
"It helps the team, but I feel like I'm supposed to do that," Dawkins said, "I have been blessed to play a lot of years, and I have received wisdom from experience and from others that it wouldn't be right for me to just keep it to myself."
Dawkins also knows the importance of sharing wisdom off the field, because no one plays in the NFL forever.
"In the long haul, you know, this game of football won't be here for everybody all the time—we're all going to hang 'em up at some point—and if I can tell them something that's going to help them off the field, to be a better individual, then I'll definitely do that also."
If there is anything more important than his on-field production, it is the savvy and leadership Dawkins brings to the table. But he is not just being embraced by his coaches and teammates—Dawkins has brought excitement to the city of Denver as a whole.
In fact, not only is Dawkins' jersey the top-selling item on the Broncos' section of NFLShop.com, but even he noticed there was a buzz around him at the team's recent Fan Fair.
"They were very excited to have me here," Dawkins said. "It's a humbling experience for me. They were very, very jacked up at the fact of what (the defense) can potentially do as a unit, and what I have been able to do for 13 years. They are expecting that this year so I'm going to do what I can for them."
While many NFL observers are saying he is too old to compete at a high level anymore, Dawkins is a man of faith and believes that when his time has passed, he will know.
"I would love to continue to play at a high level," Dawkins said. "I think from the onset of my career, one of the things that I have always said is that I want to be very consistent for the duration of my career. I'm talking about from the beginning to the end.
"I want to play a consistent brand of ball throughout that time, and when the Lord tells me it's time to set it down, I'll set it down, but that ring is the most important push for me right now."
So how far away are the Broncos from getting that ring?
"We'll see," Dawkins said. "It's a day-to-day operation with any team, but for us I know we're young in a lot of respects as far as learning and knowing the offense and defense. It's going to be important for every guy to learn his playbook and know that thing."
While many Eagles fans were devastated at the loss of Dawkins, he realizes this league is a business, and says it has already sunk in that he is no longer an Eagle.
"I knew I was a Bronco when I first set foot on that practice field," Dawkins said. "In the workout room, working out with guys, it's still new... Once I finally truly got on the practice field, I got in the huddle and donned the helmet—I'm a Bronco."
The Broncos defense will feature many new starters, and while many still have their doubts, Dawkins' leadership could be a huge key to the resurrection of the Orange Crush in Denver.