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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Brian Dawkins was the living, tackling, screaming-from-the-mountaintop embodiment of the chip-on-the-shoulder city he played for, condensed and wrapped tightly in a 6-foot, 210-pound energetic package.
There isn’t a fan, a member of the media, any of Dawkins’ NFL contemporaries who ever said “B-Dawk” wasn’t approachable—unless you played against him. People broach stories of meeting Dawkins in different areas of the country, in different parts of the world, and they’re all the same narrative of meeting a superstar football player who was humbled by the adulation he received from Philadelphia and Eagles’ fans.
On Saturday, a large segment of Philadelphia will be in Canton, Ohio, to show more appreciation for the crowning moment of Dawkins’ amazing career when he’s inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Bobby Beathard, Brian Urlacher, Robert Brazile, Jerry Kramer and Terrell Owens.
That group will be joined by Philadelphia’s own Andrea Kremer, who in June was named the winner of the prestigious Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, presented annually by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which recognizes “longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.”
For Dawkins, it’s the culmination of the blood and sweat he poured into every game he played in a 16-year career, the first 13 unforgettable seasons with the Eagles.
In typical Dawkins’ fashion, he’ll be thinking of others when he makes what will be an emotionally charged induction speech that will surely jar even the most hardened Eagles’ fans and make their lower lip quiver.
“You put the (Hall of Fame) jacket on, and now you’re kind of separated from everybody else,” Dawkins said. “It’s not a separation, the way I handled myself, the way I handled my career. I believe it’s an inclusive thing, that everyone that played with me — that they’re taking pride in the fact that we’re Hall of Famers together. I really do believe that.
“I played with a chip on my shoulder, I wanted to have a good time, I danced, I celebrated after plays, I celebrated with my teammates, and they saw that. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, but I believe if an Eagles’ fan had a chance to play, if all of a sudden, they woke up and had the athletic ability to run and to jump, and played the position that I played, they would have played the game the way that I played it.
“I really believe that. Their passion was my passion. I played with what I feel was a genuine heart. I put things on myself, never my teammates. I had to be that rock. I was never afraid to show it on a football field, to show my emotions, and to play with a passion and give everything you could give. That’s how I played.”
It’s how he’ll always be remembered.