Ray Lewis

Roob's 10 observations from Brian Dawkins' Hall of Fame Weekend in Canton

Roob's 10 observations from Brian Dawkins' Hall of Fame Weekend in Canton

CANTON, Ohio — This was my fifth trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and by far the most memorable.

Seeing Dawk walk up to that podium and deliver that speech with those fans in the house? It was everything you could have imagined (see story).

Dawk being Dawk.

The buildup was enormous but Dawk came up huge, just like he always does.

It might be a while before another Eagle goes into the Hall. Eric Allen SHOULD. Seth Joyner and Harold Carmichael, too.

But it probably won’t be until Jason Peters retires that Philly will reconvene in Canton. And if Peters plays two more years, that means he wouldn’t be eligible until 2025!

So as Philly recovers from all the excitement and convoys of Eagles fans make their way east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, here are my 10 Observations from the weekend in Canton.

1. I give Dawk so much credit for going public with his battle with depression. For Dawk, as ferocious an athlete as we’ve ever seen, to devote several minutes of his acceptance speech Saturday night to discuss how he considered taking his own life and sought counseling for depression as a young NFL player, that’s powerful stuff. And hopefully others who may be reluctant to seek help will hear his words and know it’s OK. Just by tackling this topic, Dawk will save lives. The more we talk about mental health and take it out of the dark ages the better. And for Dawk to make this such a huge part of his speech was a brave and courageous and important thing to do, and I’m incredibly proud of him.

2. And my goodness, when Dawk spoke about Emmitt Thomas urging him to see a psychologist and saving his life … tell me there was an Eagles fan anywhere on Earth with a dry eye. I was sitting in the press box bawling. I knew Emmitt was a Hall of Fame player and a pretty good defensive coordinator under Ray Rhodes. I had no idea of the impact he had on young Brian Dawkins — and presumably countless other young players. Thank you, Emmitt.

3. Walking around the Hall of Fame on Friday, I was disappointed there was very little honoring any of the early Eagles championship teams. The Eagles went to three straight NFL Championship Games from 1947 through 1949 and won the last two without allowing a point! And the 1960 NFL Championship team handed Vince Lombardi his only loss ever in a playoff game. But those two eras of Eagles football were ignored in the 1940s and 1960s displays. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is an incredible place to visit, and they do have a lot of fascinating Eagles memorabilia, and I love that Nick Foles is all over the place. My favorite Eagles artifact was the actual certificate allowing the Eagles into the NFL in 1933. But I would have liked to have seen the Eagles teams from the late 1940s and 1960 represented.

4. Amazing that four of Dawk’s secondary coaches with the Eagles went on to become head coaches: Leslie Frazier (1999-02), Steve Spagnuolo (2001-03), John Harbaugh (2007) and Sean McDermott (2003-06, 2008) were all either defensive backs or safeties coach under Reid and became head coaches. Was great to see both Harbs and McDermott at the enshrinement Saturday night. 

5. When Dawk gave Connie the gold veil so she could go in the Hall of Fame with him, man, I just thought that was such a sweet moment. All the Hall of Famers thank their wives or significant others. Dawk found a unique and meaningful way to do it.

6. One of the best parts about Hall of Fame weekend is the random meetings with the all-time greats of the game. I had always wanted to meet Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little and ask him about his days at Bordentown Military Academy in Burlington County, and when I saw him looking at T-shirts in the Hall of Fame gift shop Friday I finally got my chance. Little grew up in New Haven, Conn., but starred at BMI in 1961 and 1962, leading the Cadets to back-to-back undefeated seasons and earning a scholarship to Syracuse. He shared the BMI backfield with Joe Plumeri, who now owns the Trenton Thunder. Anyway, Floyd was thrilled to talk about his days at BMI, even though that was almost 60 years ago. “You remember BMI?” he said with a laugh of the military school that closed in 1973. “I loved it there. That’s where it all started.” 

7. I thought Jerry Kramer’s speech was fantastic. 

8. There were Eagles fans EVERYWHERE all weekend and it was a blast hearing everybody’s stories about Dawk and the Eagles (see story). I was in a parking lot in North Canton on Saturday morning and saw a couple walking in the distance – he was wearing a Cris Carter Eagles jersey and she was wearing a Randall Cunningham Eagles jersey. Cris and Randall were together here from 1987 through 1989, and that’s 30 years ago! I ran after them and we ended up chatting about Cris and Randall for 10 minutes. They had come out to Canton for Carter’s Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2013 and had such a good time they come every year now. A lot was made about how many Eagles fans came out to Canton this weekend. Probably about 10,000. But it’s not really about the number. There’s a story behind every one of those fans, and I love hearing them.

9. Say what you want about Andy Reid and his clock management and lack of a Super Bowl win in 19 years of coaching. He showed what kind of person he is by chartering a plane to whisk him to Canton just in time for the Gold Jacket Dinner Friday night and then whisk him back to Missouri for an 8 a.m. Chiefs training camp practice Saturday morning (see story). Andy’s a good man.

10. I am just not a fan of Ray Lewis. At all.

More on the Eagles

Ellerbe says Eagles feel like 2012 Super Bowl Ravens

Ellerbe says Eagles feel like 2012 Super Bowl Ravens

With Jordan Hicks hurt and then Joe Walker hurt, the Eagles turned to veteran Dannell Ellerbe as their first-down linebacker late in the season.

Ellerbe, a nine-year veteran and a Super Bowl winner with the Ravens in 2012, signed with the Eagles on Nov. 13, and after playing just one snap his first five weeks here, he played 27 in the win over the Raiders and 48 in the regular-season finale against the Cowboys.

We spoke with Ellerbe about Ray Lewis, winning the Super Bowl and what he likes about this Eagles team on this week's "5 Minutes with Roob."

Roob: You came into the league as an undrafted free agent back in 2009. What were the challenges of starting your career undrafted?

Ellerbe: Originally, I was on the scouting reports with a first-round grade going into the draft, but I got hurt and some other things came up. So I just wanted to show that I belonged in the league. You have a guy with a first-round grade who’s an undrafted free agent, it’s not because of his play. So I decided to go to the Ravens because they’re known for defense, and it worked out.

Roob: You got to play from 2009 through 2012 in Baltimore with Ray Lewis. What was that like?

Ellerbe: One of the greatest to ever do it. He was a great guy to study and the energy that he brings, I haven’t been with anybody like him since.

Roob: You intercepted Tom Brady in the AFC Championship Game back in 2012, helping the Ravens get to the Super Bowl. What's it like picking off the greatest quarterback ever on that stage?

Ellerbe: Our defense was clicking on all cylinders. So it was great. Everybody was making plays, so it was just my turn to make my play. I had a broken thumb so I had a big cast on my hand, and that made it even more special.

Roob: How tough was it being on the street the first three months of this season?

Ellerbe: I knew I was going to get picked up sooner or later. I was just trying to treat my body right and trying to stay in shape and keep working out. I got away from the game completely. I didn’t watch any games until I started getting interest from teams. I just wanted to be fresh.

Roob: Why did you ultimately choose to sign with the Eagles?

Ellerbe: I came here because this was the team that really wanted me. There was no turning them down.

Roob: How hard is it to get into shape to play regular-season football without a training camp?

Ellerbe: The only way you can be in football shape is to play football. Even when I come to training camp, I’m prepared, but the only way you can prepare to play football is to play football and getting those reps.

Roob: You’ve been here two months now. What’s your impression of this team?

Ellerbe: It’s like a family. It’s like a family. It’s like we felt when I was at the Ravens. Everybody vibing with everybody and everybody getting along. It just feels like a family atmosphere.

Roob: You’re one of several guys on this team that's won a Super Bowl. Malcolm Jenkins, Corey Graham, Torrey Smith, LeGarrette Blount. What can you guys who’ve been to the top of the mountain teach the younger guys? 

Ellerbe: Basically just staying focused. At the end of the day, it’s still football. The only thing that magnifies this game is the outside, the outside people and the crowd. At the end of the day, we’re doing the same thing. We’re playing a nameless faceless team. We’ve just got to go out there and play our game.

Roob: Is that a tough lesson for young guys to learn?

Ellerbe: For the young guys right now, I don’t think they’ll fully understand it until they get older. They’re just living in the moment right now. But we try to preach to them that this is not guaranteed. My first four years in Baltimore, we were in the playoffs and I got used to being in the playoffs, and after we won the Super Bowl, I haven’t been back to the playoffs since, so this is my first playoff game since the Super Bowl.

Roob: That was a crazy Super Bowl. What do you remember about that moment?

Ellerbe: They cut the lights off! Winning it, it was a feeling like no other. I just started running around on the field. My body just left me. I just broke down and prayed. It was great.

NFL Notes: Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher eligible for HOF

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NFL Notes: Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher eligible for HOF

CANTON, Ohio -- Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher are among 11 first-year eligible players for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Also part of the 108 early nominees who are eligible for the first time, having been retired for five years when the class is chosen next February, are Ronde Barber, Donald Driver, Steve Smith (former Giant, Eagle and Ram), Steve Hutchinson, Matt Birk, Jeff Saturday, Richard Seymour and Kyle Vanden Bosch.

The roster of nominees consists of 53 offensive players, 38 defensive players, five special teams players and 12 coaches. Modern era nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and, from there, to 15 finalists in January.

During Super Bowl week, voters will discuss the finalists, plus senior nominees Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer and contributors nominee Bobby Beathard. There is no set number for any class of enshrinees, though between four and eight new members will be selected (see full story).

Cardinals: David Johnson on IR; Chris Johnson re-signs
PHOENIX -- The Arizona Cardinals have placed All-Pro David Johnson on injured reserve and re-signed veteran running back Chris Johnson.

The team also signed ex-Arizona State running back D.J. Foster, who grew up in nearby Scottsdale, off the New England practice squad.

The Cardinals had released Chris Johnson in their final roster cuts this year.

ESPN reported Tuesday that David Johnson would undergo surgery on his dislocated left wrist and would be sidelined two to three months.

Although the Cardinals didn't say anything about the surgery, placing him on injured reserve would seem to confirm the report. Under NFL rules, David Johnson would be eligible to come off IR in eight weeks, which coincides with the Cardinals' bye. But he could well be out another month after that.

Coach Bruce Arians said Monday that Johnson's injury was the same as that of Arizona rookie T.J. Logan. The timetable for Logan's return was eight to 12 weeks (see full story).

Bengals: ‘Pacman’ back after 1-game suspension
Adam "Pacman" Jones watched on television and winced as the Bengals stumbled through one of their worst season openers.

He's back from his NFL suspension aiming to help them get beyond it.

The cornerback served a one-game suspension for his offseason arrest and misdemeanor conviction. He was activated Tuesday and will start against the Texans at Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday night.

The Bengals lost to the Ravens 20-0, the first time in their history that they were blanked in a season opener at home. Most of the issues involved the offense -- Andy Dalton had five turnovers -- but the young defense had bad moments as well.

Linebacker Vontaze Burfict has two games left on his latest NFL suspension (see full story).