Athlete Of The Decade #5 – Brian Dawkinsby BigGreek24
How fitting is it that on the day of his first game as a visiting player Brian Dawkins is unveiled as the #5 athlete in our poll. “B-Dawk”, as he was known for his thirteen seasons for the Eagles was the unquestioned leader of Jim Johnson’s defense until signing with the Broncos at the conclusion of the 2008 season. Coming into today’s game against the Eagles, Dawkins is enjoying a fine season with Denver having already amassed a career high 100 tackles, eclipsing his previous best of 98 back in 2006.
One of just a few holdovers from the Ray Rhodes era, Dawkins became a feared hitter and tackler in Jim Johnson’s agressive, blitzing take no prisoners defense. Not since the days of Wes Hopkins and Andre Waters have Eagles fans seen someone play the Safety position with the tenacity that Brian Dawkins brought to the field every Sunday.
Even though Dawkins; the previous longest tenured Philadelphia athlete, has left; he is not forgotten by the Philadelphia fans because Eagles fans love players who go out and leave everything they have on the field and Dawkins certainly did that. He is also not forgotten by a long line of players who wished they had not crossed his path on the way down the field. His presence has certainly been felt on his new team, as they are third in the NFL this season in yards allowed and sixth in points allowed. Last season while Dawkins was toiling in the Eagles defensive backfield the Broncos defense was 29th in yards allowed and 30th in points allowed. I don’t think its any accident that Dawkins arrival has something to do with the improvement.
I’m sure we all have some great memory of Brian Dawkins. Maybe its the Cowboys game last year as he forced fumbles and was very emotional as he walked off the field. Maybe its a memory of him sacking a quarterback on a safety blitz or knocking the daylights out of some poor receiver or running back who got past the linebackers. My memory is his interception of Brett Favre in the 2003 playoffs in overtime at Lambeau Field that led to David Akers winning field goal. Nobody wanted to win more than Dawkins, and nobody wanted to win a Super Bowl more than he did. Unfortuntely, he and that defense didn’t get the job done on four occasions in the NFC Championship game and nor could it contain Tom Brady and his offense in the Super Bowl following the 2004 season.
It was vintage Dawkins, finding a way to be in the right place at the right time to make the big play when the Eagles needed one. Here’s hoping that when his new team, the Broncos, take on the Eagles later today he is not a factor on defense as that could spell trouble for the Eagles.