What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.-Ralph Waldo Emerson
And so, the mighty warrior himself hung up his arms and walked away from the battle he loved. Gone will be the jersey, the cleats, the helmet. The thick neck stays, of course, to hold up the warrior’s head after a long career of destruction and demolition.
There has not been one like him. In the new-age NFL, with flags delivered for hard hits now more than ever before, we may never see another Brian Dawkins.
16 years of play. 9 Pro Bowls (tied for second-most at the position in history with another strong-willed, hard-hitting safety: Tampa and Denver’s John Lynch). 6 All-Pro seasons.
He’s popular wherever he goes, that thick neck identifying him immediately as the monster beneath the pads. In a game that relies so consistently on elegance and beauty, Dawkins was a sledgehammer in the middle. One moment he’s de-cleating a wide receiver, separating him from the ball. You blink and he’s in the backfield, chasing down a quarterback and pounding him into the turf for having the insolence to try and complete a pass against his defense. Blink again and he’s lying in wait, a hammerhead snake in the grass, waiting for a running back to make his way to the second level so he can pounce.
He’s a loud, inspirational monster. He’s a quiet, humble representative for Christ. He’s a contradiction in terms, at all times, for all seasons, and he has something for everyone.
Brian Dawkins always played with control on the edge of insanity. It was that which made two cities fall in love with him after being a second-round pick from Clemson. It was the strength he brought to the field, the reckless abandon he showed while seemingly being everywhere at once, that made us love him. What choice did we have? Everyone loves a warrior.
Sure, he’d slowed down a touch in the season before the Eagles let him leave Philadelphia for Denver. But once he donned that orange uniform, you’d never know it. He was the same passionate, tireless safety that gave his all right up until the final gun.
And that’s the Brian Dawkins we will miss.
Sadly, B-Dawk missed the Broncos’ magical playoff run at the end of the 2011 season due to a neck injury which put him out for the final 3 games of the regular season. He never won a ring, only played in one Super Bowl (and was overshadowed by decided loudmouth non-warrior Terrell Owens and hand-wringing huddle-puking “quarterback” Donovan McNabb) and now will fade silently into the night.
Goodbye, great warrior. Though there are no more battles for Weapon X to fight, he will be remembered in orange and green hearts for his strength, dominance and perseverance.
The ultimate tribute you can give a warrior is to remember.
We will never forget.