Brian Dawkins is more of a Bronco Hall of Famer than say, Tony Dorsett. The Hall of Fame running back was a 10-year Dallas Cowboy before he had one, hardly stellar final season with the Broncos.
Dawkins is not really Willie Brown, either. Brown played his first four seasons with the Broncos from 163-66, before Lou Saban was hired to save the day and traded Brown away to the Oakland Raiders where he played 12 more years.
Dawkins finished his great career as a Bronco, adding two more Pro Bowls in three seasons He still calls Denver home. Yes, the nation considered Dawkins a Philadelphia Eagle, first. But the Broncos were part of the safety who was elected Saturday into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I spent 13 years with them there’s no way I can say I’m not an Eagle,'' Dawkins said in an interview Saturday night with 9News. "But at the same time, that time (in Denver) meant a whole lot to me. I’m still there. It meant a whole lot to me because coming from a place that I was familiar with, and now a horrible separation and in the midst of all of that pain, I had to do something for new teammates.
"They weren’t worried about any of those things I just mentioned. All they know is that Brian Dawkins was coming to play for them. And they had heard, I’m pretty sure, some things about him. So I needed to be everything I had to be for my teammates. So what it taught me was there was more inside me than I thought.''
Great as Dawkins was in Philadelphia, his first year with the Broncos in 2009, especially the first-half of that season? It's hard to believe he ever played better in Philly.
“I had such a block on my shoulder,'' he said.
Not a chip on your shoulder?
"Not a chip. I had such a block,'' he said. "I was so filled with anger and rage along with my normal passion that there was nothing you would be able to put in front of me that year that was going to prevent me from having a good year. I’m just telling ya. It just so happened I was able to then talk to a bunch of young guys who are older now, still with the Broncos, and teach them the proper way of being a professional.’’
Entering his final season of 2011, the Broncos were at a crossroads. They had fired Josh McDaniels as their head coach and football operations boss and hired John Elway as a general manager, even though he had zero experience.
Everyone was at the crossroads in 2011. The NFL ordered an offseason lockout of the players. No coaching supervision. No training staff or doctors. No OTAs or minicamps.
Enter Dawkins to take the lead. He organized players remaining on the Broncos' roster to work out several times a week with local performance coach Loren Landow. Dawkins footed the bill, too.
“The thing that I knew is,my first couple years I did not have a plan for the offseason,'' Dawkins said. "So you’re telling me there’s a lock out with guys who don’t have a plan? No. In order for us to stay together and have any type of chance to have any type of success somebody needs to do something to bring people together.’’
The Philly-Denver justaposition continues in Dawkins' life today. He works as a front-office consult for the Eagles. He and his family live in Denver. Denver has been Dawkins' home for nine years.
“You know what, it’s a very peaceful place,'' he said. "I tell people all the time there’s a certain peace that I got off of the chaos of how I departed (from Philly). I needed that peace. I needed that ability to kind of find myself a little bit. To go through some of the pain of the breakup that I had with the Philadelphia Eagles. I have more to give today because of that.
"Would I have loved to have stayed in Philadelphia forever? Yes,I would tell you that. But, I would tell you this, I would not be the man that you see standing in front of you today had I not gone through that and come to Denver to explore that peaceful time so I could gain more of myself so that I can give now.''