Brian Dawkins, one of the most feared defensive players in football over the past 16 seasons, announced on Monday that he has retired.
Dawkins released a statement via his Twitter account to inform followers of his decision to step away from the game.
Here is the full statement:
“The Lord has blessed me to play in the NFL for 16 years. I would like to thank the Eagles & the Broncos 4 believing In me. I would like 2 thank all my teammates & Coaches that I have been blessed 2 go to battle with. Along with u, the fans 4 helping make my career 1 that I have enjoyed tremendously. In other words. I am announcing my retirement from the NFL”
Dawkins was drafted in the second round of the 1996 draft by the Eagles and immediately became one of their top defensive players. He played 13 seasons in Philadelphia, reaching the Pro Bowl seven times during that stretch. Dawkins was also named to the franchise's 75th Anniversary Team in 2007.
Following the 2008 season, Dawkins left the Eagles and signed with the Broncos. In three seasons in Denver, he made two more Pro Bowl trips and helped the team win the AFC West last season.
For his career, Dawkins finished with 26 sacks, 28 forced fumbles and 37 interceptions in 224 regular-season games; he is one of only 10 players all-time with 20-plus sacks and 20-plus interceptions. He also added two sacks and four interceptions in postseason play.
“Brian Dawkins is one of the best to ever play the game, a future Hall of Famer who changed the way his position is played," Broncos head coach John Fox said in a statement released by the team. "In many ways, he helped my job as a coach with his great leadership and preparation. He brought so much to the table and was such an enormous asset to our football team.
“His contributions go far beyond the wins, interceptions, sacks and Pro Bowls he accumulated during his career. Brian is the definition of class and is what you want in a leader. I know our players, coaches, fans and so many within the National Football League feel the same way.
“I competed against Brian for many years with the Giants and coached him once in the Pro Bowl, but to be around him every day for a season was truly special. I’m not sure there was a more respected guy in our building than Brian. He knows defense, he knows football and he knows what it takes to win. I’ve got the utmost admiration for him as both a player and person.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to coach Brian. Although I will miss the positive impact he had on our team, I congratulate Brian on a tremendous career and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”
Said Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, "“Brian Dawkins is one of my all-time favorite players and one of the best to ever put on an Eagles uniform. On the field, in many ways, Brian re-invented the safety position. He had the speed and athleticism to line up against the game’s best receivers, and was equally effective in the run game. His love for the game was infectious and he poured his entire heart and soul into everything he was doing from the moment he entered the stadium until he left. Everyone who ever watched Brian play saw that and it was impossible not to love that about him. He was one of the best leaders to ever play here. “
The way we see it
Losing a future Hall of Famer hurts any defense, but the Broncos saw this departure coming after Dawkins' injury problems last season. He missed four games (two regular season, two playoffs) with Denver in 2011 because of a neck injury, and the team wasn't counting on him making a big contribution in the future. The Broncos signed veteran Mike Adams in free agency to take Dawkins' spot in the lineup, and also will count on big things from a pair of '11 draft picks — Quinton Carter and Rahim Moore.