Though it’s hard to imagine now, Brian Dawkins was not the leader of this team from the moment he put on an Eagles uniform. He served as an understudy until it was his time to emerge, as he explained Friday.
“When I first got here we had some great guys already here,” said Dawkins, who will have his No. 20 jersey retired Sunday night. “And I didn’t have to do nothing. I was like, ‘Hey, if you guys have a question, you know where to go at. You go to Irving [Fryar], you go to Troy [Vincent]. I’m good. I’ll just go sit back and play football.’ Watching them handle their business as leaders, and knowing they were leaving, it was just something I knew that someone needed to step up and grab the reins.”
He never let a single finger slip from them until ultimately parting with the team following the 2008 season. The Eagles have been trying to find the next man up since Dawkins left, but their efforts have been unsuccessful to this point. Dawkins was asked if he sees any evidence that the leadership void on the defensive side might start filling in.
“Not being in the locker room, not really seeing what’s really going on in there, it’s kind of hard to say, ‘This guy is a leader on a team.’ We try to do that as analysts and pinpoint from what we see on the football field,but you never know what’s inside that locker room. But I would say Mr. [DeMeco] Ryans, it looks like he is stepping up right now,” said Dawkins.
“The way that I look at the game sometimes is a lot different. Sometimes I love to turn the announcer down so I can focus on what I want to focus on, and not have him tell me what I need to focus on. I just watch the sidelines sometimes. I watch the facial expressions. Communications. All of a sudden as they pan to the sideline, who’s in the huddle? What are the facial expressions in those huddles? In a lot of those huddles that I’ve seen, he’s having some conversations with some different people at different times.”
Dawkins was asked to give his views on the current squad overall as well.
“This team really is a work in progress,” he said. “They have a lot of talent. It’s just getting that talent to mesh and be all going in the same direction at the same time. That’s always the toughest thing, and it seems to be tough with this team as well because you have a lot of outstanding personalities on this team.”
Much more on Dawkins this weekend.