BY DAVE RAGAZZO
Giants fans are no strangers to number 20 on the Philadelphia Eagles. That number belonged to Brian Dawkins, who terrorized Giants receivers for 13 years while in Philly and established himself as one of the best safeties to play in the NFL.
On Monday, Dawkins announced his retirement via Twitter after 16 seasons in the NFL. He spent the first 13 with the Eagles, but the last three with the Denver Broncos.
One of the most beloved Eagles ever, the “Wolverine” said he thought he could play one more year after suffering a neck injury that sidelined him for the playoffs last season. Although he felt healthy enough to continue, walking away from the game in good health was important to him.
"It's probably going to sound crazy,” Dawkins said according to Fox News. “But you know the fact that I could play another year gave me a lot of peace to say that this is it.”
The Eagles announced on Monday that they would be honoring Dawkins during their Sunday night game against the Giants this season.
Dawkins will have a press conference later in the week to inform which team he will be signing a retirement contract with. Although many think it will be the Eagles, the 38-year-old Dawkins seemed as though he hadn’t made up his mind on that decision just yet.
“I’m not going to dive back into that arena,” said Dawkins. “That was done. It was over with. If I had too many bad feelings I wouldn’t be coming back at all. I would just retire, whatever. Not talk to anybody and love the fans from Twitter. But I grew to love the place. Still love the place. And I’ll just make that decision at some point. I don’t know if I can give you a reason why (for the indecision). There just is.”
The Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid coached Dawkins for a large portion of his career. He understands that with Dawkins retiring, the league will be losing one of its best players.
“The NFL will miss a player as talented, ferocious, and determined as Brian Dawkins,” Reid said in a statement. “He was one of the most dedicated and hardest working players I have ever coached. Whether it was on the practice field, the film room or the weight room, Brian always put in the extra hours it took to become the star player that he was. And he transferred all of that and more onto the field on Sundays. He poured everything he could into doing whatever was best for his teammates and this organization. He was the unquestioned leader of our defense. He will go down as one of the greatest Eagles of all-time and I have no doubt we’ll be celebrating his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
Eagles Owner Jeff Lurie expressed his love for Dawkins in a much more short and direct way saying Dawkins was “One of my all-time favorite players and one of the best to ever put on an Eagles uniform.”
The announcement of his retirement comes at an interesting time after the Broncos made headlines this offseason when they signed quarterback Peyton Manning. In a year when they look to be serious contenders some thought Dawkins would give it one more year to get that Super Bowl ring that he is missing from his resume.
Dawkins however made it clear that he does not want to ruin his legacy and now is the appropriate time to retire.
“He gave everything he had to the last drop, whether it be on game day, or preparation, or with the media, or someone needed help off-the-field with nothing to do with football but everything with him,” Dawkins said. “And that even if he did not know the answer, he would not lie. But he would help you find that. My legacy is that.”