Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.
Eagles Wake-Up Call: Brian Dawkins Breaks Into Tears While Talking About His Relationship With Philadelphia Fans
Brian Dawkins spoke with reporters on Thursday afternoon following the news that broke on Wednesday evening revealing he was named a Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist in his first year of eligibility.
Dawkins got emotional when he started talking about his relationship with Eagles fans. He actually broke down and started to cry.
“Man, that feeling goes both ways,” said Dawkins. “It’s a mutual thing. Like, for me to have … PHILLY! For me to have the opportunity to be in front of these fans, to give everything that I had, that meant the world to me. And the reason why I’m emotional right now is because of the amount of letters I’ve gotten, where people [are] being buried in my uniform … that’s a special connection. That’s a special connection.”
Watch the powerful, emotional moment in the video below.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) November 17, 2016
There’s no question Dawkins was an incredible talent and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. But his talent alone isn’t what made him so special. The way he connected with such a passionate fan-base was truly special as well. Dawkins feels like his potential Hall of Fame enshrinement is also an honor for the fans.
“Oh, you know it’s going to be crazy,” said Dawkins of his potential celebration. “Listen, you know I’m a passionate cat, so we’re going to have a good time. Like seriously. Like the fans, they’re going to have a good time, I’m going to have a good time for those who come out to Canton, if they come out.”
“Listen, we’re going to have ourselves a good freaking time. We’re going to enjoy it. And they deserve it. Like I know that people say I deserve it. And I thank you for that. Yes, I’ve worked hard. Yes, I’ve given my body. But, like, these cats deserve it too. Fans, they deserve to celebrate with this. If and when this thing happens, we’re going to enjoy it.”
Read on for more from Dawkins.
When did you first realize the Hall of Fame was possible?
“As you get older. As people keep telling you you’re a future Hall of Famer, you’re a future Hall of Famer, then, you know, as I got in Year 14, 15, 16, you’re kind of on the back nine, on the way out of the game. Then you can think about some of that stuff. But my mindset was always I need to live where I am. I need to operate in the place I’m now standing. So if I start thinking about things too far in front, or worrying about things in the past, I won’t be as good where I’m standing. So I always try to keep that mindset. So as those accolades and those praises start to come in, I say thank you everybody, but my mindset was I have to be working where I am in order to be where I need to be for my teammates at that time.”
How hard is it to wait for the cut down to the Hall of Fame finalists?
“It’s actually not hard. And when [Eagles public relations chief] Derek [Boyko] came to me and let me know what was going to happen yesterday and the announcement, I was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know that was going on.’ I’m so engulfed in what I’m doing here, what I’m learning are, what I’m trying to bring here, what I’m trying to bring back here, to help out as much as a I can … when I go back home it’s all about my family. I guess my mind does not have truly time to wander. This will take care of itself. I can’t worry about it. I’m not going to concern myself about it. When it happens, if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I won’t change if it does not happen. Like, I won’t. I am who I am. I’m blessed to be who I am. I think for me, what has always defined me, my career has never truly defined me. What has defined me is my faith. And what has defined me is the righteous life that I try to live. So if this happens, ‘Oh, thank you for it,’ but if it does not, it’s not going to change who I am.”
Does being in consideration for the Hall of Fame bring back memories of playing?
“Absolutely. It just brings back my teammates, the coaches, you know, before Andy [Reid] got here, with Ray Rhodes, and Emmitt [Thomas], and that coaching crew, and what they taught me. What they tried to bring out in me at that time, which I didn’t know what existed inside of me. And then what Jim Johnson did — the late great Jim Johnson — did with me. And I honestly believe that he was the one that truly revolutionized the position of safety. To change it what it it’s used today, because the way he used me all over the football field. So now you see those safeties all over the place. But when I came in, that was not the case. And I believe that was because of him that that happened.”
How much did you define how safeties play in the NFL now?
“I think my talent, my god-given ability helped me do that. I was blessed to run, to beat blocks, to cause fumbles. I was blessed with a lot of abilities. But Jim only kept a vanilla game plan for safeties Like when he first got here there was more of a vanilla game plan for safeties. But when he got here, he saw the things I was blessed to be able to do and all of a sudden he began to basically game plan through me. Like a lot of the game plans was going through me. When do you ever hear that about a safety? Any other team does that? No, it was Jim. That was Jim’s baby. So this baby became a grown man, to be honest with you. And standing in front of everybody right now wishing me well on this Hall of Fame trip. But that was Jim. That was Jim’s baby that’s become this.”
Would you still be able to play the way you did with today’s stricter rules?
“I still would have been able to aggressive because I did it towards the last half of my career. Here’s the thing about a professional: a professional adapts. I’m a professional. You learn to adapt. Now I still would have gotten those fine letters from time to time, but you adapt. You need to do [that] to survive, and not just survive, — because I’m not a survivor, I’m someone who likes to dominate — but dominate the position. So I still would have had success. I still would have had success.”
Did you ever get fined?
“Absolutely. Close to, by my loose calculation, probably close to $200,000 over my career.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles and special teams ace Chris Maragos agreed to a three-year contract extension.
Three important numbers that matter for this week’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
We spoke to Seahawks beat writer Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times in this week’s Opposition Research.
Take a look at our predictions for this week’s NFL games.
All-22: How Jason Peters is still having success, even as he’s close to reaching his 35th birthday.
Eagles-Seahawks preview show via BGN Radio.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Nolan Carroll was cleared of his concussion on Thursday and will play against Seattle. As the Inquirer’s Zach Berman writes, competition has been very important to Jim Schwartz with his corners this year.
[Jalen] Mills was among the top four cornerbacks in September, but [Leodis] McKelvin‘s Week 1 injury moved him up. When [Ron] Brooks was lost for the season in Week 7, Mills’ role became more important and [C.J.] Smith joined the roster. [Aaron] Grymes received a promotion from the practice squad last week, and the Eagles were forced to survive with limited experience.
“Regardless of experience, I think one of the things that’s happened in our corner position is we’ve been very competitive,” Schwartz said. “We haven’t always played great, but we’ve played competitive. We’ve given up some plays, but we’ve made some plays, and in this league you’re not going to make any plays if you don’t contest some things.”
Mills scores high on Schwartz’s competitiveness scale. Schwartz said “there hasn’t been very many situations that have been too big for him,” and the Eagles had no hesitation about putting Mills on Jones last week. Mills’ response was, “I’ve got him.”
Schwartz said it also helps that [Malcolm] Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, two veteran safeties, can pitch in. Plus, since Brooks’ injury, the Eagles have often used [Jaylen] Watkins as a fifth defensive back instead of going to a third cornerback. But even at full strength, the Eagles are comfortable with Mills on the field.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson thinks Carson Wentz will be a great quarterback for a long time, pens Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com.
Wilson is actually less than two years older than Wentz, although he’s now in his fifth NFL season.
“I’ve been fortunate to watch Carson this past year and see a few of his games and he’s playing great football and he’s going to be a great football player for a long time,” Wilson said.
“He’s athletic, he can make all the throws, he’s a smart guy, he’s competitive. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a great football player. You guys have a good one in him.”
Wentz and Wilson are both athletic and can move around, but where Wilson is a very capable runner — he’s rushed for nearly 2,500 yards with a 5.6 average in his career — Wentz runs only as a last resort.
Doug Pederson will speak with the media for the final time before this week’s game at 10:45.