Following what seemed like an out-of-body experience during pregame introductions, "Weapon X" terrorized opponents with ferocious hits all over the field. Dawkins redefined the safety position by providing excellent pass coverage, strong run support, and the ability to blitz quarterbacks.
A fan of the "Wolverine" Marvel comic, Dawkins played like a safety, cornerback, linebacker and defensive lineman in one package. No. 20 was the heart and soul on defense for the Philadelphia Eagles during the team's impressive run of success in the 2000s. His unique skills helped Dawkins become the first defensive back in franchise history elected into the Hall of Fame.
Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact no football player who passed through a city known for its passion and toughness was more revered than Dawkins. He has a special bond with the fans.
"They're crazy. They're twisted in some ways. But I love them, because there are a lot of parts of me that are twisted in a lot of different ways," Dawkins said. "That's why I did some of the crazy stuff on the field that I did. So we fit like hand in glove.
"I believe if a Philadelphia Eagles fan had a chance to play, I believe the majority of them, if not all of them, would play the game the way that I played it. They would dance, they would be having a good time, and they would go out and enjoy the opportunity to be on the football field and show it and not be afraid to show their emotions, to play with passion and give everything that they have
Dawkins was a four-time All-Pro and went to the Pro Bowl seven times in 13 seasons with the Eagles. He made two more Pro Bowl rosters in three seasons for the Denver Broncos.
Dawkins played in five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl, a 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots following the 2004 season. He had 37 interceptions, 36 forced fumbles and 26 sacks in 224 regular-season games.
His crushing hit on Atlanta's Alge Crumpler was the defining moment in Philadelphia's 27-10 victory over the Falcons that sent the team to its second Super Bowl appearance.
"That was kind of a tone setter for what the game was going to be about," Dawkins said. "It was going to be a physical contest. We knew that going into it. We talked about it all week long. It just so happened that Alge got the brunt of that blow when it comes to the frustration and anger I felt."
A second-round pick from Clemson in 1996, Dawkins moved into the starting lineup as a rookie under coach Ray Rhodes. He thrived after Andy Reid replaced Rhodes in 1999 and brought defensive coordinator Jim Johnson to Philly.
Dawkins credits Johnson for finding different ways to use his talents.
"With Jim and his imagination and his willingness to go away from some traditional thinking when it comes to the safety position, he allowed me and my gifts (to shine)," Dawkins said. "Jim just opened the floodgates. He would draw up different blitzes. We worked together when it came to those things. Without him using me the way he used me, I still would have had a good career. But 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 times. That's unheard of for a defensive coordinator to run a defense through a safety."
Former teammate Troy Vincent, a five-time Pro Bowl cornerback, will present Dawkins for induction on stage at the Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday night. Vincent, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, called it a "great honor" to present his good friend.
"There are so many factors that go into B-Dawk the man that complemented his football instincts and athleticism
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Quarterback Nathan Peterman never lost faith in himself following the most difficult moment of his young NFL career. What’s more important, neither did Bills coach Sean McDermott.
In 10 months, Peterman has gone from throwing five interceptions in the first half of his first career start, to being chosen Monday as Buffalo’s season-opening starter. Though the job is his until rookie first-round pick Josh Allen is deemed ready, Peterman’s ascension from being counted out to being counted on is a testament to the second-year player’s perseverance.
“I believe he’s a resilient young man. He’s certainly come through some times of adversity throughout his career,” McDermott said shortly the Bills announced Peterman would be their starter at Baltimore on Sunday. “Usually, if you go through some adversity early in life, you’re that much more prepared for it when it comes around later.”
Peterman is aware of the critics he attracted following a 54-24 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 19 in which McDermott’s decision to start him ahead of Tyrod Taylor backfired. And Peterman was grateful for the opportunity to prove himself during a three-way competition that was trimmed to two once AJ McCarron was traded to Oakland last weekend.
“It means a lot. I’m thankful for the people that stood by my side through hard times,” Peterman said.
“When you have obstacles, hard things in your life, that doesn’t mean you should quit
McDermott based his decision on how the Peterman handled himself upon arriving at the team’s facility in April, and his steady performance in three preseason appearances.
Peterman put up the best passing numbers during the preseason, 33 of 41 for 432 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
In the meantime, the start of the Allen era is on hold after the strong-armed but raw quarterback showed he requires more development.
Allen went 24 of 44 for 210 yards and two touchdowns in three preseason appearances, and particularly struggled in a 26-13 loss to Cincinnati on Aug. 26 in his only preseason start. The 22-year old managed three first downs on seven-plus series while getting little protection from a patchwork offensive line and being sacked five times for 39 yards.
“As a competitor, you want to play,” Allen said. “To not play, that’s going to hurt anybody’s feelings, but at the end of the day, it’s football. We’re part of the team. I can’t say anything bad about the decision. Nate played well in the preseason. Now I’m here to help him in any way possible.”
The Bills traded up five spots to sel ect the Wyoming product seventh overall — the highest draft position Buffalo has ever selected a quarterback.
McDermott declined to get drawn into making comparisons between the two quarterbacks. He described Allen’s development as being on schedule and said the rookie can learn plenty from watching regular-season games from the sideline.
“I expect Josh will be ready to go when his number’s called, whenever it is called. And that’s his focus now,” McDermott said.
The Bills are starting over at what’s been an unsettled position since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season. Peterman will become the 11th quarterback to start a season, including Matt Cassel
Peterman has a track record of bouncing back fr om adversity.
In his first college start at Tennessee, Peterman had a hand in four turnovers — two interceptions, a fumble while being sacked and a botched handoff — before being pulled during a 31-17 loss at Florida as a redshirt freshman in 2013.
He then transferred to Pittsburgh following his sophomore year and excelled in his final two seasons. At Pitt, Peterman completed 378 of 619 attempts for 5,142 yards with 47 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 26 games, which led Buffalo to select him in the fifth round of the draft.
Peterman doesn’t look toward starting against Baltimore as a chance to ease the memories of what happened against Los Angeles.
“Every time I’ve gotten back on the field it’s a new opportunity,” he said. “You’re not tied to your past failures.”
He’s also not looking beyond this weekend, when reminded the Bills’ home-opener is against the Chargers on Sept. 16.
“Yeah, that’s two weeks away. And like I say, it’s day to day,” Peterman said. “It’s about the Ravens.”
NOTES: McDermott said Ryan Groy has earned the starting spot at center. … DT Kyle Williams (right knee) practiced, though he’s not sure he’ll be ready to play Sunday. … The Bills filled out their 10-player practice squad by signing offensive lineman Ruben Holcomb and defensive tackle Robert Thomas.