Brian Dawkins is retiring from the NFL. The only question is where he’ll make it official. The veteran safety announced his retirement on Monday via his Twitter account (@BrianDawkins), marking the end of a 16-season career that included nearly 40 interceptions and more than 1,000 tackles in 224 regular season games with the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles.
“The Lord has blessed me to play in the NFL for 16 years,” Dawkins wrote. I would like to thank the Eagles & the Broncos 4 believing In me. I would like to thank all my teammates & Coaches that I have been blessed to go to battle with. Along with u, the fans 4 helping make my career 1 that I have enjoyed tremendously. In other words, I am announcing my retirement from the NFL.”
Within 20 minutes of Dawkins’ tweet, Eagles beat reporter Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported via his Twitter account (@Jeff_McLane) that Dawkins, an unrestricted free agent, has an open invitation to make his retirement official in Philadelphia, according to a team sources. Originally a second-round draft pick (61st overall) of the Eagles in 1996, Dawkins played 13 seasons in Philadelphia – including the 2004 season, when the Eagles advanced to Super Bowl XXXIX – before playing the last three seasons in Denver.
“He’s the greatest player ever to put on a Philadelphia Eagles uniform,” said former teammate Troy Vincent, who played eight seasons with Dawkins in Philadelphia. “It’s Bednarik and Brian Dawkins. At the end of the day, nobody wore that uniform and won more football games than No. 20. There’s a reason why they loved him.”
The Broncos have been quick to express their appreciation as well. Executive vice president of football operations John Elway responded to the announcement on his own Twitter account (@johnelway), thanking Dawkins “for being a GREAT Bronco and showing such an incredible commitment to your team and community.” Beat writer Mike Klis of the Denver Post also indicated that the team will hold a “major press conference” to acknowledge Dawkins’ contributions, most likely on Tuesday or Wednesday.
In three seasons with the Broncos, Dawkins made 233 tackles in 41 regular-season games, along with five sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. In 2009, his first season with the team, he made a career-high 116 tackles and received his sixth All-Pro honor. In 2011, he made 51 tackles and three sacks for a Broncos team that won the AFC West and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs. He was also selected for his ninth Pro Bowl, his second as a Bronco.
As Vincent indicated, however, the majority of Dawkins’ legacy resides in Philadelphia, where he was a member of the Eagles’ 75th anniversary team. During his 13 years in Philadelphia, Dawkins was a five-time All-Pro pick and a seven-time Pro Bowl selection. In 193 regular-season games for the Eagles, Dawkins made 898 tackles, 21 sacks and 34 interceptions.
“There isn’t a player who ever saw him back down from a challenge,” Vincent said. “How do you not love that?”
Dawkins will turn 39 in October. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame at his alma mater, Clemson University, in 2009.
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