Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Weapon Xceptional........

Courtesy of hatlaczkiadam.deviantart.com

 A great football career has come to an end. Brian Patrick Dawkins has decided to hang up the cleats and call it a career after a wonderful 16 season run. A legendary player and an even more legendary person, B Dawk will always be remembered for his intensity in between the pylons. The intensity he played with was unmatched by few in the league during those 16 years and proved to be influential on his teammates as well.  As an Eagles fan, it's hard to put into words what Dawk has meant to this fanbase or to each fan individually, but I plan to give my take on this man's career through my eyes and I'm sure you'll have a hard time disagreeing.

In Philadelphia there has been legends associated with the number 20. Mike Schmidt, Andre Waters, Chris Pronger ( Go Flyers!!!), and of course, Brian Dawkins. I can remember when the Eagles drafted Dawk, and I remember telling my brother how good this guy from Clemson was. As a Florida State fan, I watched B Dawk lay a hit on Warrick Dunn in 1995 that hurt me as I watched it!!!! It was then I started what I do every year now watching college football, I said to myself, "He'd look good in Eagle green!!!!". 

courtesy of clemsontigers.com

In the upcoming draft, the Eagles used a 2nd round pick on Dawkins. With his hard nosed play, he immediately became a fan favorite and became my favorite player. I never had a jersey of a favorite player mainly because they were so expensive but in 1998 I saved my money and purchased 2 jerseys, #53 Hugh Douglas, and #20 Brian Dawkins!! 

Courtesy of phinallyphilly.com

Dawkins became the team leader on that 1998 3-13 team and changed the way I thought as a fan. Our defense was a feared defense again, and it was a large part due to Brian Dawkins and the mastermind behind the scheming, Jim Johnson. Dawk was the most feared hitter in the defensive secondary for 10 plus years under Johnson's schemes and brought an intimidation factor back to the Eagles defense that was lacking since Reggie and Jerome of the early 90's. B Dawk was exactly the type of athlete we wanted and needed in Philly; a tough, hard nosed player who gave everything he had on the field and in the process expected the exact same from every single player along side of him.     

There are numerous highlights that can be brought up when remembering Dawk, the suplex, the interception of Favre in the infamous 4th and 26 game, the Superman tackle, the fake punt he took to the house, the list goes on. The memory that I will always have and the picture that is stuck in my mind to remember Brian Dawkins was before, during, and after the 2004 NFC Championship game.   

The pre-game introduction ( a thing he became known for and if you were lucky enough to witness them like I did, are still bone chilling to this day) was something that if you did not get hyped up for, you didn't have a pulse. Setting the tone early in the game by hitting significantly larger Alge Crumpler across the middle with a bone crunching hit. Then later in the game picking up the pylon and slamming it down sending the crowd into a frenzy as usual. 

courtesy of sportsjourneyradio.wordpress.com

The everlasting memory was Dawk after the win holding that George Halas Trophy and his post game speech to the fans!!! Still gets me pumped up and brings a tear to my eye every time I hear him say, "Give us our dang respect!!!!!!". 

In the age of free agency, Dawkins was loyal to the team that drafted him for 13 seasons until the Eagles decided not to re-sign him. In true Dawkins form, he handled it with the class we came to love about him and the respect for the game that he expressed over his years in Philly. I can't express the feeling I had knowing that as a season ticket holder, I'd attend a game without B Dawk in an Eagles uniform. 

courtesy of blog.daytonc.com

Throughout my 9 seasons as an Eagles season ticket holder at that point, I never attended a game without Dawkins in uniform. It was a tough pill to swallow but in interviews, Dawk expressed his love for Philly and the fans so it made it a little easier to swallow. In all my years as a Philly sports fan, I never had such a love for an athlete where I wanted to follow that player and like his new team because I felt my favorite team let Dawk and the fans down by not re-signing him.

Weapon X, Wolverine, B Dawk, Dawk, or just Brian Dawkins; one things for sure, there will be "Hall of Famer" said before any of those names in the near future. Brian Dawkins was by far my favorite athlete ever and I'm sure it will be a long time until someone takes over that spot. He will go down in history as one of the greatest safeties to play the game and one of the
most feared defensive players ever. For 13 seasons he was the heartbeat of my beloved Eagles and for that I can say I was privileged to watch a Hall of Famer play week in and week out. He played the game hard, but with class. On the field he was a badass, but off it he was a gentleman. Brian Dawkins, THANK YOU!! Thank you for being a great player, leader and role model for those needing guidance. Congrats on your retirement and 16 "X" traordinary seasons in the NFL. I bleed Eagles green and it is with pride that I say this....In my eyes, you were arguably the best player in franchise history.

This is Kyle Montgomery, and this has been my two cents!!!!!