Brian Dawkins says his head told him to retire, not his neck.
Veteran safety Brian Dawkins, a longtime Philadelphia Eagle who played his final three seasons with the Broncos, announced his retirement from the NFL Saturday.
Dawkins posted the news on his Twitter account.
Here is Dawkins’ full statement:
“The Lord has blessed me to play in the NFL for 16 years. I would like to thank the Eagles & the Broncos for believing in me. I would like (to) thank all my teammates & coaches that I have been blessed (to) go to battle with. Along with (you), the fans, (for) helping make my career (one) that I have enjoyed tremendously. In other words, I am announcing my retirement from the NFL.”
Reached a few minutes ago, Dawkins said he wrestled with this decision and asked for a little more time before conducting an interview. “I’m a little emotional right now,” he said.
In a statement released by the team, Broncos coach John Fox said, in part, “Brian Dawkins is one of the best to ever play the game, a future Hall of Famer who changed the way his position is played. In many ways, he helped my job as a coach with his great leadership and preparation. He brought so much to the table and was such an enormous asset to our football team.”
Dawkins played 16 seasons, and for nearly all of that time, was the emotional center of his team and a fan favorite for his passionate displays before, during and after games.
He became an unrestricted free agent when his contract with the Broncos expired in March, and spent nearly six weeks debating this decision.
Dawkins missed most or all of the Broncos’ three final regular season games and Denver’s two playoff contests because of a pinched nerve in his neck that left him with numbness in his extremeties. Until the neck injury, Dawkins had been playing at a Pro Bowl-level, and indeed he did make his ninth Pro Bowl appearance, tying him with former Bronco John Lynch for second-most Pro Bowl appearances among NFL safeties.
Dawkins finishes his career with 624 total tackles, 26 sacks, 98 passes defensed, 37 interceptions and 28 forced fumbles. He played in one Super Bowl with the Eagles. Besides his nine Pro Bowls, Dawkins was a six-time All-Pro selection.
Dawkins is expected to get serious consideration for election, possibly as a first-ballot candidate, into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he is eligible in 2017.