Eagles Notebook: Birds retire No. 20 for Brian Dawkins
That’s the best way to describe the retirement ceremony for former Eagle Brian Dawkins Saturday at the NovaCare Complex. Dawkins, who spent 13 seasons in midnight green, strolled to the stage like a celebrity, sporting a stylish yellow suit and hat, and gushed about his time in Philadelphia. The tears started flowing almost immediately, as Dawkins reflected on the coach that turned him into Weapon X.
“I would give up a body part if I had to [for defensive coordinator Jim Johnson] to make sure the blitzes got home,” Dawkins said.
Dawkins stirred the pot a bit last week when he wouldn’t say whether he would retire as an Eagle. On Saturday, he admitted that he knew right away that he wanted to retire here. Dawkins signed a one-day contract to make it official, then the Eagles threw a new twist by retiring his No. 20. No Eagles player will ever wear that number again.
“Wow,” Dawkins said, voice cracking. “What an honor.”
The Eagles sent Dawkins into retirement as a conquering hero, too. The press conference began with a video tribute and highlight reel. Several former teammates, including Donovan McNabb, were in attendance. Dawkins embraced each and every one of them after a short speech.
“I’m happy that the Eagles would really go out on a limb and do it,” McNabb said. “We don’t have a ring of honor here, you don’t see numbers hanging up in the rafters, you don’t see pictures against the walls of different guys’ foundations … so to have Brian’s number retired and hanging up for fans to see and reminisce … I think it says a lot about the organization. I think it says a lot about Andy [Reid], it says a lot about what Brian was able to accomplish.”
Dawkins’ wife, Connie, along with his twin daughters Chonni and Cionni, other daughter, Brionni, and his son, Brian Jr. were all smiles as the entire Eagles family celebrated Dawkins’ legendary career. Brian Jr. held onto a ceremonial game-day football with Dawkins’ name and number stamped on it.
“This is awesome,” Connie said. “We didn’t expect all this.”
Of course, it was also Day 3 of the NFL Draft and Vinny Curry, one of the Eagles’ second-round draft picks, stood against the wall outside the auditorium soaking in the scene. Curry, who grew up rooting for the Eagles in Neptune, N.J., got a chance to speak to Dawkins and called it the “greatest day of his life.”
“He [Dawkins] told me things was going to happen fast so embrace this, enjoy the moment,” Curry said, while admitting to owning a No. 32 Ricky Watters jersey. “[Dawkins said] This is one of the greatest places on earth to be a part of, and I was really blessed to be with the Philadelphia Eagles, and welcome to the family.”
Dawkins closed the ceremony by thanking the Eagles organization. He said that he would continue to reside in Denver and raise his family there. He also plans to do a little coaching, at the high school level, and some ministry work. But, rest assured, he’ll continue to be a presence in Philadelphia.
“I’ll continue to follow my team, the Philadelphia Eagles,” Dawkins said. “I’ll continue to be an asset.”
Of course, Dawkins thanked the Eagles fans.
“I thank you for welcoming me into your house the way you welcomed me in there,” he said. “I love you guys.”