Eagles

Dawkins thankful for 'Hall of Fame fans'

Dawkins thankful for 'Hall of Fame fans'

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Last year, it was a knock on the door with the bad news. So Brian Dawkins gave the Pro Football Hall of Fame explicit instructions this year: Don't knock on the door this time. Just give me a call with the good news or the bad news.

And late Saturday afternoon, Dawkins' phone rang with the news that he had been voted as part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2018 (see story).

"I could hear my daughter starting to cry in the background and my wife reacting, so I was trying to hold on," he said. "They were videotaping my expressions and the whole experience. 

"I never really dreamt that this would happen. A young small safety out of ol’ country Jacksonville, Fla., my hometown which I love, Duval County, would be in the Hall of Fame. The first player out of my high school to be in the Hall of Fame. The first player out of Clemson to be in the Hall of Fame. I never thought it would be me."

Dawkins, who spent the 1996 through 2008 seasons with the Eagles, is the ninth player who spent the bulk of his career with the Eagles to be selected to the Hall of Fame.

He's the first defensive back in Eagles history to make it to Canton.

He'll be enshrined along with former teammate Terrell Owens (see story) and the rest of the Class of 2018 in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 4.

“It still hasn’t sunk all the way in, it really has not," Dawkins told NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark after Dawkins was introduced with the other Hall of Famers at NFL Honors at the Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. 

"It’s kind of tough to put words behind it. You think about the things you’re probably going to say if it happens, when it happens, but once it happens, it’s hard for (it) to really sink in, the magnitude of what was just told to me a couple hours ago. It’s a blessing."

Dawkins, who now works in the Eagles' scouting department, is the first player who spent more than three years with the Eagles to make the Hall of Fame since Reggie White was inducted in 2006.

"This is tremendous news and I could not be more proud of Brian," Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said. "Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is an honor he truly earned. He epitomized everything we love about the game of football. 

"His intensity, his passion, his love of the game and his leadership were always dialed in at the highest possible level. He connected in every possible way with the city of Philadelphia and our legion of Eagles fans across the country. We cannot wait to celebrate his special night in Canton this summer.”

Dawkins, who now works in the Eagles' scouting department, was a second-round pick out of Clemson in 1996. He was named all-pro four times as an Eagle and made seven of his nine Pro Bowls as an Eagle before finishing his career from 2009 through 2011 with the Broncos.

Dawkins played in 224 games and had 37 interceptions, 26 sacks, 36 forced fumbles and 19 fumble recoveries.  

“I’m so full right now," Dawk said. "Such a blessing. Such a humbling thing to know that the things I was blessed to be able to do on the football field, the trust that the coaches had in me to call the blitzes and the things that they called, the trust with my teammates to sometimes be a sacrificial lamb so to speak so that I can be free on a blitz, but they knew I was going to make the play … 

"All those things begin to flood back to you, about how many other individuals (made this possible), and I cannot and I will not leave those individuals out. And those beautiful, beautiful fans that everybody’s trying to hate on right now. We’re going to all celebrate this. Because it’s not just me. They are Hall of Fame fans. Hall of Fame fans."

Dawk played in the Super Bowl that the Eagles lost to the Patriots for the Eagles 13 years ago in Jacksonville.

A win Sunday over the Patriots on top of Dawkins' election into the Hall would make this a perfect weekend.

“Everything is set up for us to go handle some business," he said. "I’m not saying the Patriots are going to just sit down and hand us anything because that never happens in the Super Bowl. 

"But the way this team has fought all year? No injury has set us back. Not even one iota. Not even a little bit. Nothing has set this team back injury-wise. I don’t see them doing anything but coming out and fighting. Fighting to the last whistle."

Eagles Stay or Go — A few easy choices for once

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USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — A few easy choices for once

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Mack Hollins
Roob: Hollins wasn't really a factor later in the season, once Torrey Smith got going, but he did show early in the year what kind of player he can be, notably with that 64-yard TD catch in the second Redskins game. Depending on what the Eagles do about Smith, Hollins should be either the Eagles' third or fourth receiver this fall. Either way, he'll be here, and I expect him to make a big jump in Year 2.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Hollins caught just 16 passes as a rookie and it seemed like he just never started producing the way he seems capable of. Even when Smith struggled, Hollins got more playing time and didn't produce. The good news is he's still young and plays a role on special teams. The Eagles will probably bolster their receiving corps in some way, but if they don't, Hollins will have a shot at starting if Smith is gone next season. 

Verdict: STAYS

Alshon Jeffery
Roob: Jeffery really played better than his stats this year. He made every big catch, caught every big third-down pass, made huge plays in the end zone. Jeffery was a star receiver without a star receiver's stats. His unselfish attitude carried over to the rest of the receivers and throughout the roster. And he did it all with a rotator cuff injury that required post-season surgery. Can't wait to see what Alshon can do healthy.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Jeffery didn't put up eye-popping numbers during the regular season, but if you needed any proof he's a No. 1 receiver, go back and watch Super Bowl LII, when he made that ridiculous catch in the end zone for a huge touchdown. The good thing about Jeffery is he really doesn't care at all about his numbers. There are a lot of diva receivers in the NFL, but Jeffery clearly isn't one of them. All he cared about last year was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and he certainly helped get the Eagles there. 

Verdict: STAYS

Malcolm Jenkins
Roob: Jenkins has so many roles on and off the field — community activist, NFLPA organizer, locker room leader — it's easy to forget just how good a player he is. Jenkins has been here four years and has had four very solid, very consistent, very productive seasons. He made his second Pro Bowl this year and joined Bill Bradley (3) and Dawk (7) as only the third Eagles safety since 1960 to make multiple Pro Bowls. Jenkins is signed to a cap-friendly deal through 2020 and should be an Eagle for many years to come.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: As important as Jenkins is to the Eagles as a safety and defensive back, you could make a legitimate argument that he's even more important to the team as a leader and man. There's a reason he became the guy to follow up Doug Pederson's postgame speeches. He isn't just the leader of the defense; he's the leader of the entire team. And on the field, he's still playing at a really high, Pro Bowl caliber level. He's 30 now but is still signed through 2020 and maybe outside of Fletcher Cox is the Eagles' most important defensive player. 

Verdict: STAYS

Eagles Stay or Go — 2 young linebackers

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Eagles Stay or Go — 2 young linebackers

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Darrell Greene
Roob: The Hall of Fame cornerback is now 58 years old and 21 years removed from his last Pro Bowl season with the Redskins. Oh wait … wrong Darrell Green. This is Darrell GREENE, and he's a 6-foot-3, 320-pound guard out of San Diego State who's been on the Eagles' practice squad most of the last two years. The Eagles liked Greene enough to keep him around the last couple years, and unless they see something in Chance Warmack that I missed, Greene has a chance to stick around as a young O-line prospect.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Greene has been around now for the last two seasons. He was without a team for most of 2017; the Eagles didn't bring him back to the practice squad until December. The offensive guard had some real potential coming out of San Diego State, and the Eagles paid him a lot of guaranteed money to sign as an undrafted free agent before 2016. But he's never really impressed them enough to stick around for good. 

Verdict: GOES

Jordan Hicks
Roob: With Hicks, it's always about durability, not ability. Hicks has played more than half a season only once in his three NFL seasons, and since he's under contract for 2018 with a modest $2.068 million cap figure, he's obviously not going anywhere. The question is what the Eagles do with him after 2018 when he's due to become a free agent. Hicks can play. We all know that. He needs to prove this year that he can stay healthy in order to get a big-money deal a year from now.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Losing Hicks was a problem in 2017 and his absence started showing up late in the season. He's a big-time playmaker. It's a shame he got hurt last year because if he didn't, he'd be in line for a payday. For now, he'll be back in the final year of his four-year rookie contract until he can prove he's the same player he was pre-injury. 

Verdict: STAYS

Kamu Grugier-Hill
Roob: Grugier-Hill must be Howie Roseman's dream. He's signed at the minimum through 2019 but is an awfully valuable member of the roster — a reserve linebacker and emergency kicker and maybe the team's best special teamer. Kamu's not going anywhere.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: He really doesn't play at all as a linebacker, but Grugier-Hill has become one of the best special teams players in the NFL and had a real chance to be named a Pro Bowler in 2017. He led the team in special teams tackles with 19 last season. He's still young, cheap and is a big part of Dave Fipp's group. 

Verdict: STAYS