Beyond the Bison: Mission Accomplished

Julian Dorey

Last weekend, the Eagles beat the Giants.

Okay, that was just the Birds fan in me gloating a bit. The real story of the evening was Brian Dawkins’ induction into the Eagles Hall of Fame.

Last spring, the nine-time Pro Bowl safety walked away from the game he revolutionized and brought to a close a truly remarkable career.

For 16 years, Dawkins roamed the NFL’s proverbial outfield like a ticking time bomb, daring quarterbacks to throw the ball anywhere within his jurisdiction. He finished his career with more than 25 sacks and more than 35 interceptions, joining an elite few in the NFL’s history who have accomplished that feat.

More importantly, Dawkins was the unquestioned team leader of an Eagles franchise that dominated the NFC East for much of the last decade and made a trip to the Super Bowl in 2005.

A great player on the field, Dawkins was an even greater person off of it. He was one of the few out-of-town professional athletes in Philadelphia who truly understood the passion, intensity and expectations of its fan base.

During the Eagles-Giants game on Sunday, the team he carried honored him in the best way they could. Dawkins’ signature No. 20 jersey was retired and an enormous mural was unveiled at the northern end of the stadium.

In football, jerseys don’t often get retired. With 53 men to fill out a roster every year, there are already limited options when it comes to picking digits. Dawkins hasn’t even been out of the league for a year yet.

As the current Eagles players took the field on Sunday night, “Weapon X” (as Dawkins was called) did one more “transformation” dance out of the team tunnel. Donning the very jersey he graced for 13 years in Philadelphia, Dawkins crawled, shook and danced his way towards the 50-yard line to a thunderous roar from the Philly faithful.

At halftime, Dawkins got to say thank you one more time as his honorary mural was officially unveiled.

The emotion he played with has not left him and his passion for the game is still evident. He was a privilege to watch for all NFL fans, and his punishing playing style may never be seen again in light of the new player safety measures taken by the NFL.

The Eagles won a nail-biter, 19-17, but Brian Dawkins was the real winner that night.

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