The Eagles are on top of the mountain right now. They just defeated the New England Patriots to win their first Super Bowl in franchise history, and enter 2018 as one of the favorites to get back to the end of the road. It’s very easy to look at this current group of Eagles, their accomplishments, and hold them in a much higher regard than all the Eagles who came before.
But not Brian Dawkins.
The nine-time Pro Bowler spent 13 seasons as an Eagle, leading the defense to eight playoff appearances, five trips to the NFC Championship Game, and a place at Super Bowl XXXIX against the New England Patriots. He will become the 313th player ever to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, and he’ll go in with all of Philadelphia in his corner.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. I believe that if a Philadelphia Eagles fan had a chance to play, and all of the sudden they woke up in the team hotel, knew the game plan, they had knowledge of the system, athletic ability, could run, could jump, and played the position I played, I believe that the majority of them, if not all of them, would play the position the way I played it.
Dawkins explained himself a little further saying the fans “would be having a good time” and that Eagles fans always knew he was going to “Give everything that I have, and I’m not going to make excuses for anything”
Perhaps the moment where he endeared himself the most to Philly fans everywhere came in typical Philadelphia fashion. With his Eagles fighting with the Atlanta Falcons for a trip to the Super Bowl, Dawkins leveled Alge Crumpler after he made a catch late in the first half.
YouTube: 2004 NFC Championship – Brian Dawkins Hit on Alge Crumpler HD
Even with all the legendary moments that came out of Philadelphia’s run to the Lombardi in 2018, it still remains one of the most iconic moments in franchise history. The bulldozing hit represented everything Philly fans stand for, and as Dawkins revealed, even more than that.
“I felt personally disrespected to be honest with you. They were talking too much about how things fell into Atlanta’s hands with it snowing. They were a running team, they were going to run over us, their defense is better, and I kept hearing that over and over again. To me that’s disrespectful to come into a man’s house and talk about what you’re going to do in his house. It just so happened that Alge got the blunt of that blow when it comes to the frustration and ager that I felt.”
Dawkins was already loved in Philadelphia, but from that moment on he became a legend. But a prideful Dawkins elaborated on how the love the fans had for him goes ways.
I love the Eagles fans. Yeah they’re crazy, they’re twisted in some ways, but I love them, because I am. There are a lot of parts of me that are twisted in a lot of different ways. That’s why I did some of the crazy stuff on the field that I did.
On the gridiron, he received just as much support from the Eagles as he did off of it. One man Dawkins was quick to point out as part of his success was late defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who was the man behind Philadelphia’s defense for all but three of Brian’s seasons in green and white.
“He began to draw up different blitzes, and he would show me different blitzes during minicamp of what potentially could go in. Do I like this, what do you think about that? He would ask me towards the end of the week what I thought of a game plan and some of the things that were things that needed to be changed. And that relationship developed over the years of me suggesting things.”
The relationship between Dawkins and Johnson continued to bud over the years, with the trust they had in each other only growing. Looking back at his Hall of Fame career, Dawkins believes a lot of it would have turned out differently without Johnson as his defensive coordinator.
Without him using me the way he used me, I think I still would have had a good career, but if you look at my ability to affect the game in pretty much every statistical category, that had a lot to do with Jim running the defense kind of through me a lot of times.
What Brian Dawkins accomplished was a group effort. From the defensive coordinator who unlocked his potential, to teammates, and of course the thunderous fans who were in full throat in support of him every Sunday.
And with Dawkins heading into the Hall of Fame next month, the greatest year in Philadelphia Eagles history is just getting better and better.