Brian Dawkins is now OFFICIALLY a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That’s an awesome thing to be able to say.
Speaking of awesome things, here’s a video of Dawkins’ entire speech from Saturday evening.
What an amazing guy. Dawkins talking overcoming his depression and trying to give hope to others is incredibly inspiring. You also have to love how he acknowledged the sacrifice made by Philadelphia Eagles fans just to come see him.
Read on for a full transcript if you’re prepared to be emotional.
First of all, HALLELUJAH!!!
So, as you look on my shirt, it says ‘Blessed by the best.’ And throughout my life the Lord has blessed me with so many individuals. And so if it was up to me, Hall of Fame, this is what I’d do. With my jacket — if you would appease me — I would like to put every one of the last individuals that I told you was special in my life in my jacket somewhere. Alright? So every time that I put this thing on, it reminds me, it reminds me visually and emotionally, that I did not do this by myself because I did not do this by myself. I did not.
To my big brother Troy [Vincent], brother I thank you. I thank you for the example that you set for me. Like you were a rabbit for me to chase. The way that you handled your business, the techniques on the field, I looked up to you. And that’s why I had you present me. So thank you for being the man that you are, that allowed me to look at you and model myself after you and become the man I have become. Thank you my brother.
[Patrick] Sapp. P-Sapp. Brother man, you were my rabbit I chased all through high school, brother. You were that dude. I wanted much success for you. But what I wanted, I wanted to come get you brother. I wanted to supplant you. To be that dude.
Listen. I know I didn’t do it by myself. And so there’s coaches, there’s teachers, my family, I’ll talk about them later. There’s doctors; I’m a physical safety so I was beat up quite a bit. Trainers. Massage therapists. My teammates. Listen.
Teammates, listen. I had a healthy dose of fear of letting you down. That’s why I went so doggone hard. I never wanted to let you down. I didn’t. Anything that I could do for you, you know I would do for you. And it’s not just those who are sitting here looking at me now, but all of you looking at this on TV. I gave everything I had to the last drop for you because I loved you so doggone much. So thank you.
So when I put this jacket on, Jacksonville became another Hall of Famer. The north side, Duval county, became another Hall of Famer. Over on the north side of town, Yancey Park, they have another Hall of Fame. My pop warner team, Forestview, they have another Hall of Famer. My high school, Raines High School, has a Hall of Famer. Clemson, you have a Hall of Famer. And you are a Hall of Famer.
Football was what I did. It is not who I am. It did not define me. I repeat the same things that Brian Urlacher said. I am a blessed man of God. And the Lord has blessed me to do the things that I do. And so nothing just happens in my life.
The majority of success that I have had has come on the back end of pain. Pain has pushed me to levels unknown for me at the time. All I know was that was pain but on the other side of it, all of a sudden, I became better in an area. So when we go through those situations in our lives, pain helps you develop those things that are going to take you to the next level of whatever it is the Lord has for you. Believe that. I’m a living testimony of that.
See there was a purpose for my pain. There’s a purpose for my pain. As you’ve been listening, as you’ve probably read all this week, I suffer from depression. I went through it mightily in my rookie year. I suffered through suicidal thoughts. And I wasn’t just suffering through suicidal thoughts, I was actually planning the way that I would kill myself, so my wife would get the money.
But what that pain did for me, it increased my faith exponentially. I have grown leaps and bounds because of the things that I’ve gone through and that’s one of those things that I went through. And when I say ‘went through,’ that means I came out on the other side of it. So for those who are going through right now, there is hope! You do have hope! There is something on the other side of this! Don’t get caught up where you are! Don’t stay where you are! Keep moving! Keep pushing through!
It wasn’t supposed to be me. This wasn’t supposed to happen to Brian Dawkins. It was not. I was not the biggest of guys growing up. I was not always the dude. That’s why I was chasing Pat [Sapp] so doggone much. But it was never me. And I was always called little this, little that. And I got tired of that crap. And so I grew a chip on shoulder. But what also began to grow was anger in me. And that anger in me became violent anger. That I would lose control of once a while. And the Lord spoke to me. He said ‘When you have that type of energy, let’s think about a water, let’s think about a flood. When a flood comes, it comes and it washes everything out of its’ way. But when you put a dam up, and then you put vents in it to allow water to flow through the damn, it gives you energy endless.’ So when you see me crawl in [to the stage] like that, when you see my acting a fool, that’s some of that energy that I let out bottled up. Yeah. That chip on my shoulder.
And I’m not looking down on those who talked about me, but I want to thank my haters. I want to thank those, the people that told me through other people that I wouldn’t be where I am today. That I couldn’t make it because I was too small. Because I couldn’t do this, that, or the other. But what the Lord told me was, listen. You know the turbines that you have that the wind pushes? And that you can generate energy from it? Guess what their words were to me? They just pushed my turbine. They gave me even more energy. So my haters became my elevators! They helped me out. So thank you. Thank you for all of those who kept doubting me and told me what I couldn’t do.
I have some thank yous to get through. I’m going to be respectful of this time, so I have some thank yous to get to.
Coach Stevens, my high school coach, he’s here today. Coach Stevens, I want to thank you. And I want to thank you for allowing me to play defense, coach. And not letting me play offense. When I asked you could I go to the defensive side of the ball, you said yes. And Coach Stevens, I thank you for that. Because on that defensive side of the ball is where I loved and where I lived and where I was blessed to be. So thank you.
Coach Black. Coach Black was my high school defensive back coach. Coach Black, here’s what I want to tell you. I want to thank you for allowing me to come into your office when I was struggling in school. When I was questioning even if I could go to college because I didn’t know what I didn’t know at that time. It was so hard for me to learn. You tutored me. You helped me. You nbrought people into the classroom to help tutor me. To help me get my grades up to even get a chance to go to Clemson. Listen, you didn’t know this, my major is because of you. Industrial education, human resource developing, is because of you. So thank you for your trust in me. Thank you for showing me the way, brother. Thank you.
To my late, great high school basketball coach, Coach Humphrey, he’s not here. But what Coach Humphrey taught me is that if he can’t break me, nobody can, because we ran more than the track team. We did so many things. Usually people would run 20 laps, 15 laps. Coach Humphrey would have us run 100 laps, 50 laps, 75 laps. There were times we didn’t touch the ball. We ran the whole practice. And then we would start to thing we’re about to start doing some basketball drills, he would say ‘Alright, see you next time.’ So when I went through that, that pain, he taught me was that, if he can’t break me, nobody can’t break me. So what he did, Philadelphia, is he got me mentally strong to be able to dish anything you can give out to me. Anything.
I want to thank Ray Rhodes, Mr. John Wooten, for believing in me, bringing me. I want to thank Mr. Jeffrey Lurie. Thank you for bringing me to the Philadelphia Eagles. For trusting in me, the smallest safety from Jacksonville, Florida.
I’ma try to hold on to it right now. Emmitt Thomas. Right, Emmitt, I want to thank you. Where are you at? E. I can’t look at you, I’ma start crying. E. You blessed me. I call you Uncle Emmitt for a reason. When I was in those depressive states, when I was thinking about suicide, it was because of your hand, your guidance, and your believing in me, helping me to go see somebody about the struggles I was having, to allow me to be alive today. So you’re one of those guardian angels that blessed by the best, yes, I’ve been blessed, and he’s one of the best I’m talking about. So Uncle Emmitt, thank you. But also what Emmitt did for me, is Emmitt would not let me settle for average. He would not let me settle for good. He saw greatness in me that I did not see. He saw something in me and he would not let me settle. He kept pushing me. It was hard. I was angry sometimes. Like man, I had a good game. No you didn’t. You should have made that. You saw that play. You should have made this. So E.T., the player that Jim Johnson got, and I’ma thank him in a second, the player that Jim Johnson got to do everything that he did, was because of you. And your love for me. So thank you Uncle Emmitt. Thank you.
And then there’s Jim Johnson. The late, great Jim Johnson. [looking up into the sky] Jim, thank you. Thank you. Yeah. I know Jim is looking down on us. I know he’s looking down on us. And it’s because of Jim and the way he used me all over the field that I’m blessed to put up the numbers that I put up and bless my teammates and blessed the city the way I blessed it. So thank you, Jim.
And Andy Reid, I want to thank you for believing in this smallest safety as well. You trusted me to lead. You trusted me to lead. And Andy, also, you continued to help me up when I was trying to do too much, Andy, you always brought me back down so I can do my job first and then help others second. So thank you Andy.
But I got some of the greatness coming in me right now. The greatness in my genes that I want to talk about. Because, I knew some of it, I didn’t know all of it, but there’s greatness in these genes. There’s greatness. See, um, my grandma just celebrated her 100th birthday in July. 100. And she sung a melody, a couple of songs, in an opera voice. So she still has her wits, she still has her lung capacity, and those are wonderful things, both of those, but she is an anointed woman of God. So what I saw in her is what a Christian really was. So I saw on a daily basis who that was. I can look to her, understand what to do to be something like her. Because I love her to death and I thank God for her being in my life.
Then there’s my grandfather. My grandfather was the first African-American golfer to win a tournament in the state of Florida in an African-American golf tournament. So there was greatness in there.
My mom, my mom, my mom. My mom, like, you want to know where the fighter in me comes from? Yeah, that’s my mom. That’s my mom. My mom has survived a couple of strokes. She’s survived breast cancer. And don’t let that sheepish smile fool you, like, she’s a pitbull when it’s all said and done. And she looks after her family. And she taught me this. She said ‘Brian, if you ever get in a fight, don’t start it. But finish it. And if they’re bigger than you, pick up something, and knock the [blank] out of them until they come get you off of them.’ So that’s why I finish everything. If we gon’ fight, we gon’ fight. You may whoop me, but we gon’ fight. They’re gonna have to come get me off of you. And that came from my mom.
My dad, I thank you pops. Can you see the leder[hosen] he’s wearing? You see, I wear those type of lids too, don’t I. That’s because of that man right there. I love him to death. He showed me what a man is supposed to be. How he’s supposed to treat a wife. How he’s supposed to be a giver, a provider. My dad sometimes worked two or three jobs, hustler jobs, to bring the ends to meet home to us. So, pops, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And here’s the other thing my dad taught me, when I wanted to quit in one of those painful situations in pop warner, my dad taught me when you start something, you finish it. And you don’t have a bad attitude. I better not have a coach talking to me you have a bad attitude. When you start something, you finish it. I think also because he paid his money, he was like, you know … [laughs]. But what that did is, there’s a finisher in me. There’s a finisher in me that won’t quit and those two, my mom and my dad, provided with me something that now you see in front of you. That grit you see, that determination, that fire, and then that ability to never quit, to never give in, came from my mom and dad. Thank you.
My kids. Brian Jr., I’m proud I gave you my name brother. I’m proud I gave you my name. I’m proud of the young man you’re becoming. Brionni, I love you. I love the personality that you have. I love you, sweetheart. The twins, now a lot of times when people say twins, they say ‘uh oh, double trouble.’ Nope, ‘uh oh, double blessings,’ because that’s what they are to me. Chonni and Cionni, love you, love you. And, what I wanted to provide for you, I want to provide for you one of the most important things that you can have, and that’s a powerful name. So I pray that the name I’m going to give you will bless you to get a step up real quick in this world. So I’m going to continue to build this name because I’m still growing, right, I’m still able to live my life. But I want to let you know I lived the life for them, yes, but for you first. So thank you.
I want to make sure I acknowledge my sister Mary Anne and my brother Ralph Dawkins III. Ralph, I thank you for what you showed me. You showed me it’s possible for me to get out of Jacksonville. To go to college. I saw that through you and I saw that it was even possible to get to the NFL because you got there first. So I saw that in you and I saw you work ethic, and I modeled some of that stuff. So, some of the stupid stuff that I did was, I would go run in the heat of the day in Jacksonville, Florida, with a trash bag on. Now Pat just told you that I was already skinny. Now my brother was doing it because he was trying to slim down a little bit. So I saw him do it, and I did it, which was very dumb, but all those things I did because I saw you. I saw you.
Now, last but not least is my beautiful bride Connie. Blessed by the best once again. The other part of me being here is because of that woman. Because of Connie. Because of you. Because of you urging me to go see a a psychologist to go talk about my problems. And be more open with you about my problems so we could talk things out. You prayed for me. You were there for me. You would not let me settle. And for that, I want to present something to you today. So I have my gold jacket, right. But what I want to present to you, sweetheart, is something golden as well. So can we get that out right quick? Yes, can you stand up sweetheart? Can you put on that gold veil right there? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah that’s my Hall of Fame wife right there. Yes sir. That’s my Hall of Fame bride. Yes. [claps]
Don’t settle. Don’t settle in this life. Don’t settle. Don’t allow yourself to settle. Push through the pain. On the other side of that pain is something special for you to go into the next level of what God has for you. Now see, my number is 313, right. So, 3, I think about, the first three I think about is the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. That’s the Trinity, right. The second 13 I think about is my birthday, because I was born October 13, 1973. Now, if you add 3 plus 1 plus 3, I believe that’s 7, so many of you believe that to be what, the number of completion, huh. Right? So this chapter of my life is completed. It is. But I believe that this next chapter was going to be something special with His guidance. And the only way that I could have that thought in my head is the fact that I think and I believe that there are going to be some painful things to come. It is. I know it is. But I’m prepared for the pain. I’m prepared to push through it. I’ma persevere through it with His help and His guidance. And with that purpose and with that pain, I’ll be able to bless so many more people with what God has put inside of me. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
And finally, let’s talk about these Eagles fans. I read. I know some of you drove all the way from Philly here. And listen, I have a good understanding that you don’t have money just to waste. So that means that you put hard earned money that you could be saving to come out and celebrate with ya boy! So THANK YOU. Thank you for loving me the way that I love you! I love you back! And I thank you. I thank you for everything.
And finally what I want to say is, thank you heavenly father. Thank you heavenly father for blessing me with the sense to understand that I did not do everything by myself. That you have guided me the whole way. That I’ve had wonderful people around me that you placed in purposeful position to reach me. That you’ve orchestrated my life even though my plans wanted you to do the opposite. You stayed faithful to me and you continued to push me. And you continue to pull me towards the purpose. So I thank you, heavenly father, and I can’t wait. I can’t wait to see what you’s going to do with me next.
Thank you. Thank you, thank you.