Earlier this week, legendary Eagles safety Brian Dawkins was announced as a finalist to the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2018. This is the second year in a row that Dawkins will be a finalist (and hopefully his last). To many Eagles fans, Dawkins is more than just the hard-hitting safety from the Andy Reid era. He was an icon, a hero, and a role model. Dawkins encompasses everything you could want in the leader of your defense. He was a vocal leader, he was impactful, and he never gave anything less than 100%. When he parted ways with the team at the end of the 2008-09 season, I remember being legitimately upset. He was by far my favorite player to watch growing up, in all honesty he made me a fan of football.
Brian Dawkins’ HOF resume speaks for itself. In his 16 year career he accumulated; 1,131 tackles, 37 interceptions, 120 passes defended, 36 forced fumbles, 19 fumble recoveries, and 26 sacks. He made the Pro Bowl 9 times, was selected to First-team All-pro 4 times, and was named to 2000s All-Decade team. Not to mention he’s the only player in NFL history to record a sack, interception, forced fumble, and touchdown in a single game (2002 against the Houston Texans). Despite these staggering numbers, Dawkins rarely gets the credit he deserves in the all-time great safeties discussion. Not only did he consistently put up great numbers throughout his career, he revolutionized the safety position as we know it today.
Say what you want about players like Earl Thomas or Troy Polamalu (who are sometimes considered to be better players) but they wouldn’t have existed without Dawkins paving the way for them. As the swiss army knife of Jim Johnson’s defense he could line up anywhere on the field and do anything he was asked to do — from covering the slot receiver, to blitzing off the edge like a linebacker, he did it all. Both Thomas and Polamalu play/played similar roles in their respective defenses, and both have Dawkins to thank for introducing this style of safety to the NFL. Before him, the safety position was usually filled by the special teams ace or a backup corner. It wasn’t until Dawkins started wreaking havoc on the league that teams started to realize what a great safety could do for their defenses.
Now the big question is, will the Hall of Fame committee take all of this into consideration when they put in their final vote for this year’s Hall of Fame class? They absolutely should. What bigger impact can a player make than literally revolutionizing the way in which a position is played? Seriously, he changed what it meant to be a safety. There were good safeties that came before Dawkins, like Steve Atwater and Ronnie Lott, but these players didn’t do everything that Dawkins did. As far as I’m concerned, Dawkins could very well be the most well-rounded safety we may have ever seen.
The only thing that could hold Dawkins back from getting into the Hall of Fame this year is the amount of defensive backs that were named as finalists. Along with Dawkins; John Lynch, Ty Law and Everson Walls were the defensive backs announce as finalists. While Dawkins has better number than most of these players, they all have the one thing that Dawkins does not, and that’s a Super Bowl ring. Usually winning a Super Bowl is a big determiner for whether a player gets into the Hall of Fame or not, especially when your competition all have a ring. I hope it doesn’t stop voters from realizing Dawkins’ greatness, but Championships are so over valued in today’s sports’ landscape that I don’t see how it isn’t part of the discussion amongst voters when it comes time to cast their final vote. We won’t know if Dawkins makes the cut until the NFL Honors show on the eve of the Super Bowl where they officially announce this year’s HOF class. But as far as Eagles fans are concerned, Brian Dawkins is a Hall of Famer and he fully deserves to make it this time around.