Spare Brian Dawkins the sorrowful tut-tutting. Dawk and the Eagles' defense suffered through a bad night in Dallas. As far as Dawkins is concerned, this does not mean he can't play anymore, as he prepares to turn 35 next month.
"This is not the first time I've given up a couple of plays, it won't be the last time," Dawkins said, as the Eagles began preparations for Pittsburgh. "The thing about being in the secondary is, you have short memory. You line up and you do it again, and that's what I'm going to do."
"I know everyone has their opinions, and they can have their opinions. I know the facts. And the fact is, I can play this game. I can do what I need to do for my teammates ... at the end of the day, that's what matters. What matters is what my coaches think, and they know, what my teammates know, and what I know. That's what I put my trust in."
Asked if he felt he should be cut some slack, as a 6-time Pro Bowler and one of the franchise's all-time greats, Dawkins said: "No, man, this is Philadelphia! Do you actually know where we are, in the city of Philadelphia? There's not too many people that's going to be cut slack, and I understand that. That's why I don't make a big deal of it. I know the same fans that are questioning what I'm doing are the same fans that are going to be hip-hip-hooraying when I grab a pick and take it to the house ..."
Asked about maybe needing to make allowances, substituting guile for speed as he gets older, Dawkins brushed off the suggestion:
"I am 34 years old. Proud of it. Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to get to 34 playing in the NFL. I'm going to continue to play this game at a high level as long as I can, I'm going to protect my body, make sure I'm out there on the field for my guys, and I'm going to play ball. I'm going to play ball at 34, I'm going to play ball at 35, and whatever else comes after that, I'm going to play ball! So if I give up a deep ball and you want to say I'm slow, go ahead! Guess what? The next time, I'm going to try to make the same play again. At 34 or 35 years old. Thank you very much."
And with that, Dawkins stepped down from the NovaCare podium. It was the most forceful closing statement in recent NovaCare oratory. Your Eagletarian couldn't help but think that if Andy Reid or Donovan McNabb could lay it out like that, fans would have a lot fewer problems relating to them.
Dawk sounded like Winston Churchill (we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender... )
(Yeah, Conlin usually is the guy with the WWII analogies around here. But it's not like he holds a copyright, or anything.)
Come to think of it, Monday night was a bit like Dunkirk for the Eagles' D, and like Dunkirk, it came early in the campaign, with quite a few battles left to fight. Maybe there's still time for 2008 to emerge as the Birds' finest hour.