When Von Miller cried, Brian Dawkins knew the taste of those tears. Rarely is the NFL legend going to write his final chapter. The man is planning. God laughs.
“Oh, they’re going to miss him,” said Dawkins, NFL Hall of Famer and former Broncos and Philadelphia Safety, about watching Vonster in Ram’s gold.
“But it’s becoming imperative for them to move on and focus on what they need to do to succeed without him. It’s going to be tough. Guys have to step up. When someone leaves, the possibility opens up that someone can step up in that place. “
The Eagles arrive at Mile High on Sunday for the first time since 2013, making Week 10 a more personal week for Dawkins, also known as “Weapon X”, the enforcer who did 13 years of damage in the town of Brotherly Love before spending his last three seasons with the Broncos.
“For me, the Broncos know more of who they are a little bit more than the Eagles do, ”Dawkins said of Sunday’s matchup at Empower Field. “At this point, you honestly do not know what you get with the Eagles every week. They are literally the epitome of a team growing up, and you literally do not know what you get every week.
“Should the coaches run the ball? Won’t they run the ball? Should they flash? Won’t they flash? You do not know what you get from that team.”
And is not it fun as time flies? It’s been 10 years since Dawkins’ last season in the Broncos Secondary, a 2011 season marked by Tebow Mania, the arrival of coach John Fox, and one of the strangest AFC West titles – a division crowned with a record of 8 -8 and achieved by tiebreakers – in Denver lore.
“I’m not someone who’s jovial after a loss,” said Dawkins, now 48, and whose new biography, “Blessed By The Best: My Journey to Canton And Beyond,” reflects the hard-hitting defense’s path to the NFL, his struggles with depression, his faith and his spiritual foundation through good and bad times.
“When you’re a competitor, you hate to lose, don’t you? So my way of dealing with it was to be quiet, to be respectful of other guys who might have felt worse than I (was). It was not necessarily the atmosphere ( with the Broncos), I would say that. It was different. “
The new tome, like his career, is more Eagles-centered. But Dawkins’ reach can still be felt here, in Philly, and in his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., Through his Impact Foundation, which is intended to receive half of the book’s net proceeds.
“I do not want to criticize (Denver),” he laughed. “The fans here are just different, I think. There’s a dark side (in Philly). I do not know how to say it. Both fan bases are extremely intelligent when it comes to football. But that’s the dark side with ( Eagns fans), that’s what I’m used to. “
Dawkins was named to the Pro Bowl in two of his three seasons in the Broncos orange, including 2011. One of the other bright spots on the Denver defense was a novice outside linebacker from Texas A&M, a first-round pick with a high engine and a infectious personality.
“The success he’s had does not surprise me from what I saw of Vons’ rookie year,” Dawkins said of the Broncos icon, who was traded to the Rams last week for two 2022 draft picks. “I’m not the only one who saw it in him.”
He’s also feeling Miller’s pain right now. Despite more than ten years of service, Dawkins felt disrespectful and unwanted by the Eagles management after the 2008 season, when he eventually agreed to a five-year deal with the Broncos worth $ 17 million, guaranteed $ 7.2 million .
But even the deepest wounds heal in the end. Dawkins announced his retirement in April 2012, just as the Peyton Manning era in Denver was about to begin. Five days later, he signed a one-day contract with Philadelphia so he could retire with an Eagle.
You never forget the first team. The first contract. The first Super Bowl. Or the first love.
And when it comes to Vonster putting on the old No. 58 jersey again, once again, Dawkins said, one never says never.
“When you cut your teeth somewhere and you’re there forever and have great success there, it’s a hard thing to do,” he laughed. “It’s my hope that when Von (plays in Los Angeles) that they are as accommodating to him as Denver was to me.”
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