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News » Eagles move on without Dawkins

Eagles move on without Dawkins

Eagles move on without Dawkins
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Brian Dawkins hadn't officially signed with the Denver Broncos when some Eagles fans began ordering No. 20 orange jerseys.

If there ever was a player who can get the local die-hards to turn on their beloved Iggles or simply root as hard for another team, it's Dawkins. His departure leaves a huge void in the Eagles' secondary and a bigger hole in the hearts of the Philadelphia faithful.

Angry fans flooded the phone lines of talk-radio stations when news broke Friday that Dawkins was in Denver. They grew madder over the weekend when it became official that the seven-time Pro Bowl safety had joined the Broncos.

A caller to one station Sunday suggested fans should purchase Dawkins' new jersey and wear Broncos orange to Lincoln Financial Field when Denver visits Philadelphia this year.

"I'm the biggest Eagles fan, but I'm rooting for Denver to win the Super Bowl because I love that guy," the caller said.

Radio host Ike Reese, a linebacker and special teams standout with the Eagles from 1998-2004, criticized the organization for letting Dawkins become a free agent.

"This wasn't about Brian's playing ability or the Eagles wouldn't have even offered him a contract," Reese told listeners. "This was about money, the bottom line. The Eagles wanted him back on their conditions and they didn't think he would go out there and get a better offer."

Dawkins, who turns 36 in October, signed essentially a two-year, $9 million deal with Denver. The Eagles reportedly offered him less guaranteed money over two seasons. Dawkins agonized over his decision to leave after 13 years in Philadelphia. The Broncos made him feel more welcomed.

"I was not just a want for them," he said. "They felt more like it was a necessity for me to be here. That's something that every player wants to feel from an organization."

This Eagles' regime led by owner Jeffrey Lurie, president Joe Banner and coach Andy Reid has a history of letting popular veteran players go elsewhere. Dawkins joins a list that includes Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, Duce Staley, Hugh Douglas and Jeremiah Trotter. Bookend tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan both are free agents and could be next to leave.

But Dawkins was different. He was the face of the franchise, an inspirational player, role model and solid citizen who combined Hall of Fame credentials with outstanding leadership skills.

It was assumed the Eagles could easily satisfy Dawkins with a fair contract because they have a ton of money available - the team reportedly is $48 million under the salary cap. Neither side would discuss any of the negotiations, but Dawkins obviously received a better deal from the Broncos.

All the hard hits and big plays Dawkins provided over the years could be replaced. He's on the down side of his career, though he earned another trip to Hawaii last season. Second-year pro Quentin Demps is highly regarded and steps into the starting spot on the depth chart.

But Dawkins' presence in the locker room might be missed most. Teammates had tremendous respect for Dawkins, a deeply spiritual person who was a mentor for younger players.

"It's definitely a loss to the team and a loss to me personally," guard Shawn Andrews said. "If I had to pinpoint one guy since I've been in Philadelphia that I respect as a husband, a father, an athlete, a football player, it would be Dawkins. He will be dearly, dearly missed."

Andrews missed training camp last year while battling depression. Dawkins was there for him when he returned to the team.

"He helped me a lot by saying he went through the same thing in the past," Andrews said. "It's tough in many aspects of the whole situation. He's going to be missed."

Dawkins is quiet and humble during the week, but his alter ego emerges on game days. He transforms into an energetic, highly emotional player who can hardly contain himself when he runs out during pregame introductions. He shakes, gyrates and looks like he's having an out-of-body experience when he comes out of the tunnel, and maintains that intensity until the final whistle.

"It's amazing," Andrews said. "The fans from the 50-yard line to the nose bleeds, they feel his energy. It's like everybody has a piece of Dawk on his shoulder."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 1, 2009

Jon Dorenbos Name: Jon Dorenbos
Position: C
Age: 28
Experience: 6 years
College: UTEP
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