THE EAGLES WILL retire Brian Dawkins' No. 20 jersey at a ceremony on Sunday night when they play the rival New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field.

The safety played 16 years in the NFL, the first 13 years with the Eagles. He was a second-round pick of the Eagles in the 1996 draft. He played college ball at Clemson.

He was not re-signed by the Eagles after the 2008 season. On Feb. 28, 2009, Dawkins signed a 5-year, $17 million contract with the Denver Broncos. Former Eagles president Joe Banner said the handling of Dawkins was one of his biggest regrets.

"I think that there were times where the true appreciation we had for the contributions of some of our players, you know, Brian Dawkins comes to mind the most," Banner said this spring on "Pro Football Talk Live."

"That certain situations were handled in a way that maybe the true, sincere, deep caring we had for those people didn't show the way it should have.

"I think those players were close enough to us personally to know how we felt, but I also understand how perceptions are driven. And those are people we care about deeply and cherish and value and were invaluable to what we were trying to do here, and there were times I wish that could have been handled a little cleaner, primarily from a public relations perspective."

The Eagles were criticized for the way Dawkins left the team.

This is what NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said when Dawkins announced his retirement in the spring: "Congrats Brian Dawkins on a successful 16-year career. Great player, great family. More importantly, great man in community and locker room."

The Daily News asked readers to submit their memories of Dawk:

While this isn't my favorite moment, I think it showed the league what kind of dynamic talent he was. Jim Johnson really showcased his talent and ability during this game in literally all facts of the game.

Sept. 29, 2002, vs. the Houston Texans.

Dawkins had an interception, fake punt touchdown and a sack during a rout of the Texans. (Ironically that game was the only time during the McNabb years with Thrash/Pinkston that the Eagles offense was able to execute a slant pattern the way it was drawn up.)

To me, Dawkins was special because he didn't want to be a leader and was uncomfortable in that role early in his career. As a rookie and younger player he had veterans and more vocal teammates to handle that role. But as players moved on with free agency, he was thrust into that position.

He was an ordinary guy with extraordinary talents and seemed to not miss a beat with his leadership role. I also think he was special because he put so much of his passion into each and every play of every game. No spotlight was too big for him and he always came through in crunch time.

- Steve Campbell

 When I think of Brian Dawkins there is no other Philadelphia Eagle who typified the complete football player that Philadelphia fans want and admire. He never left anything on the table in any game. He motivated his fellow teammates the most but he energized us the fans even more. He exhausted himself both physically and mentally trying to help his team win a game. I will always be thankful that I had the opportunity to enjoy watching this soon-to-be Hall-of-Famer! You are forever a Philadelphia Eagle!

- Paul Groffie

Marlton, N.J.

 Where do I start? Flying onto the field before the game? Waving his arms to incite the crowd? A headfirst tackle, separating the receiver from the ball? Or finishing it off with a double bicep pose? Brian Dawkins exemplified what we love in an athlete. He is a "Philly Guy" as much as anyone who ever played or lived in this city.

If Donovan McNabb had an ounce of Brian Dawkins in him, he would have owned this town. And maybe we'd have a Lombardi Trophy.

- Rob Pino

South Philly

Brian Dawkins created the Wolverine character when he would be announced at the stadium to fire up the crowd. He morphed into that superhero on the field, launching his body towards the ballcarriers. His pickoff of Brett Favre's ill-advised throw in the playoffs in the 4th-and-26 game vs. the Packers was one of my favorites. What stands out more for me, though, was what a great father, husband and humanitarian he is. Pro football needs more men like him. The Eagles never should have let him go.

- John J. Braithwaite Jr.


Favorite memory of @BrianDawkins was the 2004 NFC Championship game . . . His crunching hit on Alge Crumpler . . . #greatness

- Augunator, on Daily News Facebook page

My favorite Dawkins memory was when he smashed Vick at the goal line giving him a concussion I believe. Big mistake getting rid of him he had the most heart!

- Frank King, on Daily News Facebook page