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Brian Dawkins Talks Legacy, Fans And His Chance At Canton

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We dropped a few quotes from Brian Dawkins' conference call on Monday, but I'd be remiss if I didn't share his full comments with everyone. So after the jump I've posted the transcript of the call.

Dawkins talks about his legacy in Philadelphia, his bond with the fans, relationship with the late Jim Johnson, his greatest Eagles memory and his thoughts on possibly heading to the Hall of Fame.

On how the process of retiring as an Eagle came about:

"It was made clear to me that at the time that I decided to retire that they, they being the Eagles, wanted to do something for me. I was obviously wide open to that, and I just had to make my decision on whether I wanted to keep playing or to retire. That took a while because I wanted to make sure 100% that this was something that I wanted to do. There is no stepping out, retiring, and coming back for me, once it's over, it's over."

On whether injuries factored into making the decision to retire:

"The injury factors weren't the main ingredient here, they really weren't. I know a lot of people want to speculate about my age or the neck or whatever, and they can do that all they want. At the end of the day, you can say my neck, but it was really more of a pinching of my nerves. I've had that before, and I've had the machinery at the time to be able to allow those things to heal and now that's 100% again. It wasn't that, it was just that while I was in Philadelphia and as my career was extending on, everyone would continually ask me when I would retire or how would I know when that time comes. I always said I would know, and how would you know because other athletes did not know. They thought they did know but they didn't know. I made a promise to myself and in prayer that when I made peace with me stepping away from the game that at that time, it was time for me to stop playing. I can't say that my desire isn't where it used to be or anything of that nature. It's just the fact of being at peace with stepping away from the game knowing that I could play the game another year. That may sound crazy, but knowing I could play this game at least another year gave me a lot of peace because it'd be better to step away a year too early rather than a year too late."

On what his legacy will be in Philadelphia:

"I've had long conversations with myself on this topic as I really began to think about retirement and football coming to an end as far as the playing side of it. Knowing all the battles in Philadelphia and all of the things we went through and the great times, bad times, and all the fun we had. At the end of the day, I enjoyed my time, I really did. I absolutely enjoyed my time with my teammates and going to war with them and having the fans rooting for us. My legacy, if anything - like I've always said, I just want it to be one where fans, teammates, coaches, whoever and everyone that I've played with, played for, or in front of, that he gave everything that he had to the last drop, whether it's on game day, in preparation, with the media, or someone needed help off-the-field, that he was there for me with that, and that if he didn't know one of the answers, he wouldn't lie and he would help me find it. If my legacy is that, I can trust it. If you want to try and break down those words, and simplify it, you can because I can't, it would be that."

On his best moment with the Eagles:

"It was, without question, and I didn't even have to think about it and some of you guys already know it because I've said it somewhere before, was when we finally won the NFC Championship Game after losing how many times in a row. The exuberance, the joy, the feeling of a burden lifted off of your back and to see the joy on [then defensive coordinator] Jim Johnson's face, the late and great Jim Johnson, to see the joy in his face and the tears in his eyes when he grabbed me and said, ‘Dawk, we did it, we did it!' I'll never forget that, and that'll be something that will always stand out among so many great moments I had in Philadelphia. That will be one that will stand out the most."

On why he was so beloved by the fans of Philadelphia:

"One of the things that I've been blessed with or cursed with is I played with all of my emotions on my sleeve and you can kind of read me pretty easily by the way I'm feeling on game day. I like to try my best to not disappoint people. I purposely try and go out and do my best to make sure my coaches, teammates, and fans know that I gave it my all on the football field. With me playing as long as I did in Philadelphia, I heard what they said. I didn't just hear it, I heard and listened to what they said. I felt the pain they had from past failures and the way they are treated sometimes in the media. I heard those things, and I took it to heart and I understood them. The thing that I always wanted to do is to go out and put a certain product on the field to have those certain entities proud of me when the game was over. Hopefully, I have poured everything emotionally and physically out on the field. The last thing is I don't care what people say about me being exuberant. I don't care if you did or didn't like it. If you didn't like it, I didn't care about that because I'm going to be me. I'm going to play with my emotions on my sleeve."

On what he will miss the most about playing:

"The thing that I will miss the most that has been echoed by some of the other guys who are retiring is the camaraderie that you have with your guys. You go into work because you do work but you're also in there with a bunch of knuckleheads and jokers with a lot of jokes being played in the midst of an NFL locker room. I'll miss the competitiveness and preparing for the game, the weaknesses and the strengths and listening to how Jim [Johnson] is thinking of manipulating this or showing that and how we're going to attack, ‘Hey Dawk, be ready for this call or this situation,' so being ready to attack when given the opportunity week to week. And then, the final thing, there is a small percentage of guys who have the opportunity to play in the National Football League, so to just be able to be out there on the field, not on the sidelines, and playing the game is something that makes me happy to have been in this position."

On whether he has thought about how he will feel when he returns to Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 30 when he is honored:

"No, I have not. With the whirlwind of things like the phone calls from teammates and some coaches, and the media, it's been hard to take a minute or two to reflect. I can only imagine what that's going to be like. Hopefully, it'll be a victory at the same time."

On his close relationship with late defensive coordinator Jim Johnson:

"I think the things that he saw in me were the same things that [former defensive coordinator] Emmitt [Thomas] and [former head coach] Ray [Rhodes] saw in me, and they just used it in a different way. I was blessed to be able to run, and I was able to cover different receivers out in nickel packages. I had quick-twitch muscles and my hips weren't stiff, so I had a lot of cornerback attributes out in the safety position. That was not the norm when I came into the league: you had your big-guy strong safety and you had your smaller guy, maybe a little bit taller but smaller, free safety. He can roam and get the guy in the box. They [Rhodes and Thomas] may have had me more covering, but when Jim got here, he saw that I could cover and he liked that part, but he would blitz me a couple times and he saw with the timing of the blitz that I was relentless. That's what Jim would always preach is the relentlessness. He wants you to be relentless and never to hold back. That's the way that I played, period. He began to throw more and more blitzes up for me. He would call me in the offseason just to see how I was doing and even on off days just to get into, ‘I got a couple more things that I think you're going to like.' I was loving it because I'm being used in a different way. I wouldn't say or take this lightly, but I don't know if there would be a Weapon X or Wolverine personality on game day if Jim didn't believe in me to use me the way he used me."

On the possibility of being enshrined in the Hall of Fame:

"That would be awesome, it really would. I didn't come into the league saying that I wanted to be a Hall of Famer. It was something that you see other people doing, and it would be nice, but I honestly didn't come into the league saying that I was going to be a Hall of Fame player. I was just going to go out and hopefully earn a job and do my thing in the NFL. Here I am now, 16 years later, having been able to accomplish some things along the way. If my number and name is called on that day, it'll be a blessing. I'll celebrate it with the coaches, teammates, and fans who rooted me on all those years. It'll be a blessed day for not only my family members and myself, but for a lot of people."

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