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Brian Dawkins: 50 things to know about the former Eagle and soon-to-be Hall of Famer

Dawkins has plenty of numbers, but statistics only tell part of the story. His passion for the game endeared him forever to Eagles' fans.

Brian Dawkins was a second-round pick of the Eagles in 1996. He played 13 seasons for the Birds and was selected to seven Pro Bowls.
Brian Dawkins was a second-round pick of the Eagles in 1996. He played 13 seasons for the Birds and was selected to seven Pro Bowls.Read moreInquirer file

Brian Dawkins has come a long way from Yancey Park and his tough neighborhood in Jacksonville.

He's overcome a lot to get to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Whether it was his own demons early in his career or the constant pushing by his defensive coordinators, Dawkins emerged as one of the great safeties of all time. Run across the middle at your own risk.

But through all the interceptions and sacks, the wins, losses and tears, the one constant in his life has been his wife Connie. His speech on Saturday will mention her and it will be special.

So here are 50 things to know about Dawkins. He may not have won a championship here, but he won a lot of hearts.

>>READ MORE: Brian Dawkins wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame without his coaches: 'Emmitt brought it out of me and Jim unleashed it'

50 things to know about Brian Dawkins

1. "He was the heartbeat of the defense." – former head coach Andy Reid.

2. Brian Dawkins was drafted by the Eagles in the second round in 1996 with the 61st pick overall. That draft produced five Hall of Famers. Ray Lewis and Terrell Owens are joining with Dawkins this year. Marvin Harrison was inducted in 2016 and Jonathan Ogden went in in 2013.

3. In addition to Dawkins, Lewis and T.O., Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, Jerry Kramer, Robert Brazile and executive Bobby Beathard also will be inducted on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN). There are 318 Pro Football Hall of Famers. Officially, Dawkins is No. 313.

4. Order of enshrinement speeches: Brazile, Beathard, Kramer, Urlacher, Dawkins, Moss, Lewis. Owens is skipping the ceremony.

>>READ MORE: The tricky business of defending Terrell Owens

5. "He's the hardest hitter on the team," linebacker Jeremiah Trotter once said of Dawkins. "He hits like a linebacker. He hurts people. He's knocked them out. He's knocked himself out. Shoot, he's knocked us out."

6. Hearing Dawkins vent his frustration with mere simulation drills during one of his first practices as a rookie in 1996 is pretty remarkable considering the player he became: "You can't go really all out, so you have to be in position to make that knockout blow without actually hitting the guy, and that's hard for me. So I got to get in front and get position. I'm ready to put [pads] on and see how this pro thing works. See what's really going on."

7. Eric Zomalt, a third-rounder drafted out of Cal two years earlier, was the nominal starter at free safety entering training camp in 1996. By Week 3, Dawkins was the starter. "Brian's good, it's no secret he's a better cover guy than me," Zomalt said when Dawkins took over. "He's going to help the team at that position. He's going to be a real good player."

8. John Wooten was the Eagles director of scouting in 1996 when Dawkins attended the NFL scouting combine. "He just took over the combine. You would've thought he was the captain of the DBs at the workout. He was ahead of everybody. He was doing everything. Which is the same thing I saw at Clemson."

9. When the Eagles were trying to lure Dolphins free agent Troy Vincent early in the 1996 calendar year, defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas touted the skills of Dawkins, whom the Eagles hadn't drafted yet.

>>READ MORE: From Clemson to Canton | Brian Dawkins' career in photos

10. Combination of the thumbnail sketches that appeared in the Inquirer and Daily News after the Eagles drafted Dawkins: Can play either safety position (also played cornerback) … 6-foot, 188 pounds … Quality athlete with strong cover skills … Has the power to complement his quickness … He finished third on the team with 79 tackles (54 unassisted) … Led the (Clemson) Tigers with six interceptions, for 55 yards in returns, and had nine breakups … Caused and recovered two fumbles … Had a pair of sacks and four other stops for losses. Also blocked a kick, the fourth of his career … Finished third in the voting for Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year … Dawkins is physical and has great hands. . . . A big hitter on special teams and strong in punt coverage.

11. Dawkins was named to nine Pro Bowls (seven with the Eagles) and was first-team All-Pro in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2006.

12. His seven Pro Bowl selections is tied with Reggie White and Jason Peters for most among Eagles players. Chuck Bednarik has the most with eight, which means that record could have belonged to Dawkins if the Eagles chose to re-sign him after the 2008 season. Dawkins was stung by that decision.

13. Shortly after Dawkins signed with Denver in 2009, his new Broncos teammates voted him team captain.

14. Dawkins, 44, was born on Oct. 13, 1973. Other notable Oct. 13 birthdays: Jerry Rice (1962), Paul Pierce (1977) and Trevor Hoffman (1967), who was just inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

15. Dallas owner Jerry Jones (1942) also was born on Oct. 13. Dawkins says a 44-6 win over the Cowboys in 2008 is one of the most special regular-season victories he's ever enjoyed. And here's why.

16. Dawk forced two fumbles in the third quarter that were returned for touchdowns as the Eagles clinched a remarkably unlikely playoff spot. It also was his final game at Lincoln Financial Field as an Eagle.

17. Dawkins was 16-8 against the Cowboys in his Eagles career (and 1-0 while he was a Bronco).

18. "I believe that if a Philadelphia Eagles fan had a chance to play — if all of the sudden they woke up (with the ability to play safety) — I believe the majority, if not all of them, would play the game the way that I played it," Dawkins said. "They would dance. They would sing. They would be having a good time. They would not just keep to themselves. They would go out and enjoy the opportunity to be on the football field. And show it; not be afraid to show their emotions."

19. Among the other players drafted by the Eagles in 1996 are guard Jermane Mayberry (1st round), tight end Jason Dunn (2nd) and quarterback Bobby Hoying (3rd). The Eagles picked Dunn seven spots ahead of Dawkins.

20. Dawkins is the only player in NFL history with more than 25 interceptions (37), more than 25 sacks (26) and more than 25 forced fumbles (36).

21. Dawkins thinks he still would have had a good career, but having Jim Johnson as the defensive coordinator (1999-2008) is a big reason he's a Hall of Famer. "If you look at my ability to affect the game in pretty much every statistical category, that had A LOT to do with Jim running the defense through me a lot of the time. That's unheard of for a defensive coordinator to run the defense through a safety."

22. He had 34 of his 37 career regular-season interceptions with the Eagles, which is tied for most in team history with Eric Allen and Bill Bradley. Factor in postseason picks and Dawkins would have 38 for the Eagles, which would be tied with Herman Edwards for the most in club history.

Quarterbacks picked off by Brian Dawkins (includes postseason)

One each: Drew Bledsoe, David Carr, Randall Cunningham, Jake Delhomme, Trent Dilfer, Craig Erickson, Jay Fiedler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Doug Flutie, Kent Graham, Trent Green, Matt Hasselbeck, Bobby Hebert, Jeff Hostetler, Damon Huard, Brad Johnson, Kevin Johnson (WR), Danny Kannell, Jim Kelly, Jim Miller, Patrick Ramsey, Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner, Danny Wuerffel.

Playoffs: Michael Vick 2 (following 2002, 2004 seasons), Brett Favre (2003, 4th & 26 game), Brad Johnson (2001).

Touchdowns: Damon Huard (1997), Danny Kannell (1999).

First and last with Eagles: Bobby Hebert (1996), Kurt Warner (2008).

While with Denver: Peyton Manning 2 (2009), Matt Hasselbeck (2010).

23. "Jim loved Brian Dawkins," former teammate Ike Reese said after Johnson passed away in 2009. "He believed in him. He wouldn't have had near the success he had with his defense if it weren't for Dawk. Those two careers will forever be intertwined."

>>FROM THE ARCHIVES: How Brian Dawkins helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl 

24. The Eagles retired Dawkins' No. 20 on Sept. 30, 2012 before a game against the Giants, which was appropriate. Dawkins hated the Giants. Respected them, but despised 'em more than any of the other NFC East rivals.

25. Dawkins was 10-14 in the regular season against the Giants in his Eagles career and 2-1 in the postseason. He also beat the Giants in a 2009 regular-season game while with Denver.

26. List of Eagles who wore No. 20 (years indicate full career with team): Howard Bailey (1935), Bibbles Bawel (1952, 1955-56), Frank Budd (1962), Elmer Hackney (1940-41), Jim Harris (1957), Leroy Harris (1979-82), Vaughn Hebron (1993-95), Leroy Keyes (1969-72), John Lipski (1933-34), Jim MacMurdo (1934-37), Alex Marcus (1933), John Outlaw (1973-78), Henry Reese (1935-39), Don Stevens (1952, 1954), Pete Stevens (1936), Andre Waters (1984-93), Clyde Williams (1935) and Brian Dawkins (1996-2008). Never miss a chance to mention Bibbles Bawel.

27. "He's our best blitzer. I've never seen guys do what he does," Trotter said. "He lets us play defenses we couldn't play without him. "

28. Dawkins' seven Pro Bowl selections is easily the most for a safety in Eagles history. Bradley, who played for the Birds from 1969-76, is next with three.

29. According to Pro-Football-Reference, Dawkins' first career tackle was of Washington's Brian Mitchell during a punt return in the 1996 opener. Mitchell, who was a Hall of Fame caliber player himself, was an Eagles teammate with Dawkins from 2000-02.

30. Dawkins was 13-11 against the Redskins while with the Eagles and 0-1 when he was a Bronco.

31. Dawkins, in 2002, caught a shovel pass on a fake punt and scored a 57-yard touchdown against Houston. The guy who flipped the ball to Dawkins? Brian Mitchell.

32. That was the fourth and final touchdown of Dawkins' career. He also scored on interception returns off the Giants Danny Kannell and Dolphins Damon Huard and returned a fumble by LaDainian Tomlinson, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.

33. Dawkins had nine tackles that 2001 day against the Chargers, forced two fumbles, had two pass breakups, nearly had an interception and blasted San Diego wide receiver Tim Dwight with a hit over the middle.

34. Dawkins last year on Terrell Owens after both failed to get into the Hall of Fame: "For me, he ruined my Super Bowl chances for two years after (2005) because of what broke out. It took us a couple of years after that to get back in the groove. So I can be pissed off about that. But I'm not anymore. I just look at his resume. His resume is he's a phenomenal talent. He should be in the Hall of Fame. "

>>FROM THE ARCHIVES: Why Owens, Dawkins were snubbed in '17

35. Dawkins' alter-ego was comic book superhero Wolverine: Weapon X.

36. Brian met his wife Connie while they were at Raines High School in Jacksonville. Brian was a star athlete, Connie a cheerleader. It was her grandfather who gave them $100 so they could buy wedding rings while they were at Clemson.

37. "I would not be where I am without her," Dawkins has said frequently. "I can't overstate that."

>>READ MORE: How Connie Dawkins saved her husband's life

38. Other notable Raines' alumni include former Eagles Harold Carmichael and Lito Sheppard and former baseball star Vince Coleman.

39. Dawkins (183) and Carmichael (180) are 1-2 in games played all-time in Eagles' history among position players. Kicker David Akers played in 188.

40. Brian and Connie have four children, including twin daughters Chonni and Cionni, who were born two months prematurely in 2007. This forced Brian into an unfamiliar role as Connie and the twins recovered. Cionni was afflicted with a breathing disorder and Brian would have to monitor her from 10 p.m. until 6 the following morning. "I was on the night shift," he said.

41. Son Brian Jr., a redshirt sophomore cornerback at Clemson, was born the day before dad's first Eagles preseason game. Junior appeared in one game for the Tigers last season on special teams.

42. Dawkins had six interceptions in his senior year and was chosen second-team All-American by the Associated Press. Washington's Lawyer Milloy and Colorado State's Greg Myers (who?) were the first-team safeties.

43. Had three interceptions against Duke in 1995 — all in the first quarter.

44. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney came up with the idea to give out the Brian Dawkins lifetime achievement award to various alums since 2013. Dawkins was the first receive it.

45. The Eagles had lost the NFC Championship Game three years in a row before beating the Falcons following the 2004 season. Dawkins' hit on massive tight end Alge Crumpler, who admirably held on for a 31-yard gain, set the tone for the 27-10 Eagles victory. "That's not the hardest hit I ever had," Dawkins said. "But I think it's the most (notable) because of where it was – in the NFC Championship Game."

46. Dawkins is the third Jacksonville native to be inducted into the Pro Football HOF. Rams defensive end Jack Youngblood (inducted in 2001) and Cowboys wide receiver "Bullet" Bob Hayes (2009) are the others. Philadelphia natives in the Hall are Bert Bell (Haverford School, charter inductee in 1963), Herb Adderley (Northeast High, 1980), Leroy Kelly (Simon Gratz, 1994) and Marvin Harrison (Roman Catholic, 2016).

47. Columnist Marcus Hayes, then an Eagles beat writer, polled the other 10 Eagles defensive starters during the 2001 playoffs. His question: who was the best player on the defense? Dawkins won the vote 9-1. (Hayes recalls Troy Vincent getting one vote.)

48. The last player who spent the majority of his career with the Eagles to be inducted into the Hall of Fame was offensive tackle Bob Brown in 2004. Brown played five seasons with the Birds (1964-68) and was first team All-Pro three times with the Eagles and twice more with the Rams.

49. Dawk's on Instagram (BrianDawkinsSr) and Twitter @BrianDawkins. Likes to give fist bumps to fans.

50. "I love Eagles fans," Dawkins said. "Yeah, they're crazy. They're twisted in some ways. But I love them. Because I am (too). There's a lot parts of me that twists in a lot of different ways. That's why I did a lot of the crazy stuff on the field that I did. We fit like hand and glove. We fit."

>>READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Brian Dawkins and his induction ceremony