Behold Eminem’s new song “Legacy,” off The Marshall Mathers L.P. 2. Behold it because he not only name-checks B-Dawk, but a whole lot of other random Eagles stuff too.
Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid are back in town, you may have heard. The Eagles are hosting Reid’s Chiefs on Thursday night, of course, and decided to hold a retirement ceremony for their former quarterback while their old head coach is in the building.
What should you expect?
Aside from perhaps a few highlights running on the big screens during the course of the game, McNabb’s moment will come at halftime. Brian Dawkins will serve as the emcee for the ceremony, and there will be a laser light and fireworks show as part of the festivities as the No.5 goes up into the rafters.
The following excerpt from a recent Ashley Fox article had some fans scratching their heads:
Reid said he asked McNabb, who will have his jersey number retired at halftime, to walk onto the field with him, as well as the other former Eagles who will be in attendance.
“Donovan and all those guys, they were giving me the business about it,” Reid said. “I told them they all have to walk out of the tunnel with me and see where the loyalty stands.”
Probably just a joke. Wouldn’t be the best PR move for McNabb to come out of the Chiefs’ tunnel. Crazier things have happened, but I don’t anticipate seeing McNabb walking out with Reid — or crawling out of the Eagles’ tunnel like B-Dawk.
From what I have gathered, if Reid is acknowledged it won’t be during the game itself. This is a pretty big spot for the Eagles, and it makes little sense to be paying tribute to the opposing coach once the ball is in the air. There will probably be a tip of the cap to Reid pregame, but that’s it.
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Practice had been over for a time and just a few stragglers remained around the NovaCare fields. Jason Avant was feeding balls into the jugs machine for a growing legion of eager young receivers. A group of reporters milled around mining for nuggets and subjects to interview.
A short distance away on their own little piece of land stood Brian Dawkins and Nate Allen, locked in conversation. Dawkins took in practice following Donovan McNabb’s retirement ceremony and had some pointers for the 25-year-old safety.
“He gives me tips all the time,” said Allen. “We were just going over some one-on-one stuff right there. I guess he was watching us do one-on-ones and he was giving me a few pointers and tips. Just technique stuff, telling me to be patient.”
Dawkins makes himself available to all the Eagles’ defensive backs should they want his advice. Allen is one of the players who has taken advantage of the opportunity. The fourth-year safety out of South Florida was drafted in the second round in 2010 to help fill the void left by Dawkins when he signed with the Broncos the season prior. His rookie campaign got off to a good start (he was named Defensive Rookie of the Month that September) but Allen ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee in December. He hasn’t been the same player since.
The physical part he has overcome. Dawkins believes it is the psychological element that needs to be mastered.
“It’s just confidence,” said Dawkins. “It’s believing in the talents that he does have. He possesses a lot of talent, but just believing in what he has and allowing that talent to flourish and show. If he can increase the confidence side of his game and just let his athleticism show, there’s no reason he can’t be a game-changing safety in my opinion.”
Both realize that if Allen is going to make an impact, it won’t be in the fashion that Dawkins did. Allen is not a ferocious player. He is not known for laying a big lick. And that’s OK, according to Dawkins.
“It’s not about that, it’s how do you affect the game? How does your game relate to helping your team win. Everybody don’t love contact the way I love contact, they just don’t. And there’s not something wrong with that person. Not everybody is the same. I was crazy in that way,” he said. “His ability to close on the football and make plays on the ball is to me a strength of his. And if he can harness that, if he can own that part of it, it doesn’t matter if you don’t blow people up. He’ll blow people up from time to time but I just want you to make the tackle. You make the tackle on 3rd-and-4, and you make it for a three-yard gain, we’re off the football field, that helps us win ballgames.
“You don’t have to be a killer. We have other guys that could possibly fill that role. [Patrick] Chung is a heavy-hitter. [Kennny] Phillips is a heavy-hitter. We have other guys who can fill that role. Just be a sure-tackler.”
Allen missed 13 tackles last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly brought some competition into the fold at safety this offseason, signing Chung and Phillips and drafting Earl Wolff. So far, it’s been Allen primarily running with the first team opposite Chung. He is confident he can have a big 2013, but knows he needs to do it in his own way.
“When I first got in here, everybody was like, ‘Be this. You’re filling big shoes.’ But I’m not trying to be B-Dawk. He’s a Hall-of-Fame guy. He’s B-Dawk. I’m going to be me and play my style and help the team however I can,” said Allen. “We understand that we have different styles but at the end of the day we’re both safeties and I’m trying to makes as many plays as I can.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Go inside Monday’s practice with Sheil’s running diary.
Russell Shepard is riding high after endorsement from his idol, Michael Vick.
The Eagles lose linebacker Jason Phillips to a torn ACL.
Kelly says there will be no tackling to the ground during camp.
Did the Eagles weigh Donovan McNabb‘s complicated relationship with the city before deciding to retire his number?
Jeffrey Lurie says the Eagles would have drafted Edgerrin James if McNabb was off the board.
With Jeremy Maclin out, Riley Cooper gets his shot.
Click here to get your 2013 Eagles Almanac.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal says that NFL referees will likely slow down Kelly’s offense.
As Kelly mans his first full week of NFL training camp, installing a high-revving Ferrari engine into the Eagles’ offense, league insiders say there are exactly zero indications NFL referees will be willing participants in the Kelly era. The NFL, they say, has a long-standing pace at which they do things between plays and the referees “aren’t going to change just to accommodate someone’s offense,” said Mike Pereira, a former NFL vice president of officiating who is now an analyst for Fox Sports.
“We have to make sure teams understand that they don’t control the tempo, our officials do,” said NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino. “We’re going through our normal ball mechanics, we aren’t going to rush [unless] it’s in the two minute drill.”
Phil Sheridan looks back at McNabb’s career.
From 2000, McNabb’s first season as a full-time starter, through 2008 was the best sustained era of Eagles football. Andy Reid made that possible. Dawkins and the Jim Johnson-coached defense made that possible. But none of it would have happened without McNabb. Anyone who doesn’t grasp and accept that just doesn’t grasp or understand football.
A day off for the players but not for us.
Today, we take a trip down memory lane and remember a team that will either bring a smile to your face or elicit tears from your eyes: the 2004 Eagles.
ESPN.com is doing a series on the five most compelling NFL teams since 2000, and the 2004 Birds, led by Brian Dawkins, Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens, Brian Westbrook and company came in at No. 3, behind only the 2010 Brett Favre-led Vikings and the 16-0 New England Patriots (2007).
Ashley Fox provides a recap of the 13-3 campaign, which ended in a 24-21 loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl:
“When we stepped on the field from OTAs to the first game against the New York Giants, we felt no team could beat us,” Ike Reese said. “We were hunting for the St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts. That’s who we had to beat. I just remember the level of confidence was at an all-time high for a team coming off three NFC Championship Games. It took us to an almost invincible feeling.”
It’s impossible to discuss that season without mentioning the fallout afterwards. Despite how things turned out with T.O. and the ensuing 6-10 campaign in 2005, Andy Reid told Fox the gamble on Owens was well worth it.
“I like Terrell. All of us could’ve handled it a little different,” Reid said. “I take a little of the blame for that. Everybody I know wants to come after Terrell. I take some of the blame, too. There were things we could’ve done better after the way it worked out. But was it worth it? Yes. I would do it over again. I would. I wish things could’ve worked out better during the Super Bowl. Philadelphia deserved to have a championship there, but it didn’t pan out that way.”
The Eagles had strong leadership on that team, but nobody could seem to find a way to keep McNabb and Owens on the same page for another season.
“If you can somehow keep that team in tact, that offensive staff in tact for another season… you would definitely be the favorites to win the Super Bowl,” Westbrook said last year. “That offense [would have been] the No. 1 offense in the league for a long time, and we would have been so productive.”
Added Dawkins: “What I tried to do was pull guys to the side, away from everybody, and just have conversations with them. ‘What’s going on? What’s the deal? What can I do to help? This is what we need to do to get back on the winning track, and if I can assist in any way, let me know. Even if you don’t let me know, this is what I’m willing to do. This is what we need to do in order for us to get this thing going in the right direction.’
“The thing that you always want to do is get everybody in the room at the same time. That was never able to be done.”
And so, Eagles fans are left to wonder what could have been. But there’s no doubt that “compelling” is a fair way to describe the team that got the franchise closer than any other to the Lombardi Trophy.
WHAT YOU MISSED
What the Oregon sanctions mean for Chip Kelly.
Will Kelly run a physical camp? Players weigh in.
We asked three players a simple question: What do you know about Kelly now that you didn’t know a few months ago? Here are their answers.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com offers some thoughts on the defense:
The defense won’t be a top unit until the right players are in place. It is possible we could find out we already have those players, but I think that is an extreme longshot. I like this group, but don’t see them turning out to be a great defense. The secondary still needs work and there are front seven questions to be answered.
I’m not enamored with the system we’re running, but it has grown on me. The most important issue for me is that the team did hire the right coaches to teach the scheme. This staff has a lot of 3-4 and hybrid defense experience. If you want to be creative and complex, you must have the right teachers. I think the Eagles accomplished that.
Over on The Philly Post, Richard Rys is not happy that Marvel has teamed up with the Cowboys:
What’s worse, for me as an Eagles fan, is that the one Marvel/NFL tie-in that makes sense for adults who are not virgins is right here in Philadelphia. Future Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins was known for his love of Wolverine, the X-Men member with unbreakable bones and a berserker rage. He kept Wolverine figures in his locker and named his on-field alter ego after the character’s code name, “Weapon X.” Marvel honored Dawkins with a Wolverine-inspired poster after he retired. But they could have made a mint with Weapon X shirts; in fact, one local company has made a very cool Dawkins tee that isn’t anywhere near as corny as the Cowboys line. Forget Hugh Jackman — if B-Dawk says a Canadian with retractable claws is cool, it’s gospel.
Haven’t you learned by now that we always come up with something?
In an interview with ESPN’s Dan Le Batard, Brian Dawkins talked openly about a variety of topics, such as dealing with depression early in his career and cutting out alcohol.
The video is embedded below, but here are a few excerpts.
And thanks to our friend BountyBowl for Tweeting out the link.
Asked for an estimate of how many concussions he sustained during his career: “What are we considering concussions today? Is it loss of memory? Is it nausea? Is it loss of balance? Is it when I hit somebody I see the little spots? Is that a concussion? You just don’t know. You’re saying a full-blown concussion where I lost consciousness?
…If I count the sparkle things, there’s no way I can count those because that happened pretty much every day at practice sometimes.”
On dealing with depression after his rookie season: “Went through a period of depression, taking some medication for that. A lot of things going on at the house. Stopped drinking right along that time. A lot of expectations from my football team of what they were expecting of me. A lot of expectations from my family members – not in my house but back in Florida, what they were expecting from me, and didn’t know how to handle all those things. So I had to call on my faith and dive more into my faith and that allowed me to pull out of that depression, stop taking the medicine that I was taking and be able to grow up a lot. I had to grow up a lot during that time.”
On cutting out alcohol at that time: “One of those things that I decided – this is not for everybody – but I decided that alcohol was something I was going to cut out. Period. I was going to stop drinking and dedicate myself more to my relationship – not a religion – but my relationship with the Father. And when that happened, it quickly took that thirst or that urge to have that beer or that alcohol after whatever it is you do. Sometimes you have it to just relax or whatever, it quickly took that urge away.”
My Brian Dawkins moment happened on Friday, November 4, 2005. I know the date only because it was the same day Terrell Owens issued one of the most unconvincing apologies in American history after saying on national television that, among other things, the Eagles might be undefeated if they had Brett Favre as their quarterback instead of Donovan McNabb.
This was my first time inside the NovaCare gates and my introduction to the circus that can be the Philadelphia Eagles. For all the drama that was unfolding in the auditorium, it is what I saw before I even left my car that made a lasting impression.
Right after I parked a sleek four-door sedan pulled in about 10 yards in front of me. This was definitely a player. I was new to the game, this was pretty damn surreal, and I wasn’t moving until I found out who it was. Turns out, I would have to wait a while.
The driver side door cracked open. Then for some time, nothing. The door was slowly pushed out. A foot eased its way past the frame and gingerly to the ground. Eventually, another. A hand grabbed the door frame for support, and a beat later, a head emerged. It was Brian Dawkins.
After some struggle, the safety eventually pulled himself out of the car, then deliberately made his way to the back of the vehicle to get his things out of the trunk. There was a long pause between each movement to gather strength for the next. Every twitch looked painful.
This was a Friday. Dawkins, if memory serves, wasn’t on the injury report. He played that Sunday against the Redskins and led the team with seven tackles and a forced fumble in a 17-10 loss.
“I really feel like I played the game the way that they would love to play if they had a chance to,” Dawkins said yesterday, meeting with reporters in advance of the ceremony to have his No. 20 jersey retired. “If a fan got a chance to go on the football field, what would you do? How excited would you be before the game? Would you do a flip? Would you crawl? Would you do those things? Probably so, because you’re so excited to play those games. If you had the chance and you had the mindset and you had the skill and you had the courage to hit one of these dudes full speed, would you do it? Absolutely they would do it. So I feel I played the game in such a way that they can see themselves in me.
“I think all of that kind of invited them to see things from my vantage point, which I must admit was a crazy man sometimes. But I can dig it. I love it.”
The fans will zap back to Dawk’s vantage point once again on Sunday night when he is honored at halftime. Now 38, Dawkins said he has zero idea how he will react: He could morph into the maniac of Sundays past, or he could be a mushy “tear machine.” Either way it will be raw and uncensored, and he’ll have the crowd on bended knee because of it.
For some time after watching Dawkins in the parking lot that day, I concluded that this was a player’s reality. That they put their bodies through so much that they can hardly move, yet find the will to make it back out there the following week. There is some truth to that; it is where the nobility of the sport is found. But to this day, I have never seen a site like I saw in November of 2005. That was a whole other level of self-sacrifice.
On Friday, I asked Dawkins what it was like to pull through the NovaCare gates once more this weekend. To make that right turn into the parking lot, get out of the car and walk towards old reality.
“God, for a brief second…you remember coming in, I’m about to go to the locker room and prepare myself for the game. Like I left something, I was coming back to get something before I head off to get ready for the game Sunday,” said Dawkins. “For a brief second as we were driving down…”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Dawkins sees a leader in DeMeco Ryans.
Sheil provides his cheat sheets for Eagles-Giants.
The Eagles may be getting a break, as Hakeem Nicks is iffy for Sunday night.
Victor Cruz will play, and will give Nnamdi Asomugha and the Eagles secondary a chance to deliver some payback.
What are the odds of Vick getting benched? We have them here.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Mark Meany’s remembrance of Dawkins’ encounter with an ailing Gary Papa deserves to stand alone.
Dawkins emerged from the locker room barely able to walk, his face clearly reflecting the pain he was in. He asked me where we were going to do the interview. I explained that Gary was waiting for him, but it was a long walk to the other side of the stadium. That was as far as Gary could make it before he needed to sit and rest.
A quick discussion ensued between myself, Dawkins and Eagles media relations manager Ryan Nissan. It was quickly determined that Dawkins was too hurt to make the walk. We would have to cancel the interview. That is, until I said one simple thing to Dawkins, “Gary’s in bad shape, he’s having a really rough day.”
Dawkins looked me in the eye and said, “Let’s go.”
The walk down the hallway through the bowels of Giants Stadium took forever. Dawkins was limping and silent the entire way. We finally got to Gary, who was sitting down and still gathering his strength. Dawkins walked up to Gary and helped him out of the chair.
Then the two embraced.
Both men, two of the toughest I’ve ever met, began to sob in each other’s arms. It went on for what seemed like forever. I then noticed that through the entire embrace, Dawkins was whispering in Gary’s ear. I’m not sure that whispering can be described as intense, but that’s what this was.
Dawkins was giving Gary a pep talk, a pregame speech before a tough game. It was vintage Dawkins.
The Eagles have a mock game in their last bit of preparation before Sunday’s game under the lights against the Giants. Dawkins is expected to address the team.
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.
Weapon X sent a tweet today to announce his official retirement from the NFL. The 16-year veteran played 13 seasons with the Birds and was, clearly, an integral part of a Jim Johnson defense that tortured offenses and helped propel the Eagles to four consecutive NFC championship games and one Super Bowl. If someone at the Iggles office hasn’t already started the ball rolling on retiring number 20, there’s a problem.