When I started covering the Eagles 30 years ago, the conversation over who was the best player in Eagles history centered on Chuck Bednarik and Steve Van Buren.
Then Reggie White did his thing, and it became a three-man race.
Brian Dawkins came in a decade later, and by the time he was done, it was, "Well, Dawk is in the top 5, just behind Van Buren, Bednarik and Reggie." But you know what?
Dawk's résumé holds up against anybody. He redefined the safety position. He didn't just play a hybrid linebacker/cornerback style that nobody had ever seen before, covering deep, delivering thundering hits over the middle and supporting the run like a maniac. He changed the way safeties play.
It's tough comparing running backs, linebackers, defensive ends and safeties, but I don't think anybody has ever meant more to this franchise than Dawk. He took the Eagles from laughing stocks in the late 1990s to perennial Super Bowl contenders in the 2000s. He took the Eagles from the Vet to the Linc. He took the Eagles from just another team to elite.
And I wasn't here for Bednarik or Van Buren, but I can safely say that no player in the last 50 years was as beloved as Dawk for the player he was and the person he is. I got to talk to Dawk before the Eagles-Panthers game this season, and he spoke about how he realizes now that the reason all this happened, the reason he had this career, was to set him up for his true calling in life, which is to start a conversation about mental health and depression, to share his experiences, to help others, to make a difference in peoples' lives, to teach that anybody from an incredibly wealthy and decorated pro athlete like Dawk to you or your friend or family member can suffer from depression and that help is available.
Put it all together and you have Dawk, one of the most genuine, unique and passionate people I've ever met. Put it all together and you have the greatest Eagle of them all.
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