As one would expect from a class act like Brian Dawkins, he shared the stage on the day of his retirement with many people, lauding teammates, coaches and the two organizations that he played for.
He saved special praise, though, for late former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who recognized Dawkins' unique physical attributes and turned him loose with a variety of blitzes.
When Dawkins was asked his most memorable moment as an Eagles in a 42-minute conference call Monday afternoon, he did not hestiate -- and the answer went back to his relationship with Johnson.
“It was, without question, and I didn’t even have to think about it and some of you guys already know it because I’ve said it somewhere before, was when we finally won the NFC Championship Game after losing how many times in a row," Dawkins said. "The exuberance, the joy, the feeling of a burden lifted off of your back and to see the joy on Jim Johnson’s face, the late and great Jim Johnson, to see the joy in his face and the tears in his eyes when he grabbed me and said, ‘Dawk, we did it, we did it!’ I’ll never forget that, and that’ll be something that will always stand out among so many great moments I had in Philadelphia. That will be one that will stand out the most.”
Dawkins was later asked about Johnson and how and why they became so close.
“I think the things that he saw in me were the same things that [former defensive coordinator] Emmitt [Thomas] and [former head coach] Ray [Rhodes] saw in me, and they just used it in a different way. I was blessed to be able to run, and I was able to cover different receivers out in nickel packages. I had quick-twitch muscles and my hips weren’t stiff, so I had a lot of cornerback attributes out in the safety position. That was not the norm when I came into the league: you had your big-guy strong safety and you had your smaller guy, maybe a little bit taller but smaller, free safety. He can roam and get the guy in the box.
"They [Rhodes and Thomas] may have had me more covering, but when Jim got here, he saw that I could cover and he liked that part, but he would blitz me a couple times and he saw with the timing of the blitz that I was relentless. That’s what Jim would always preach is the relentlessness. He wants you to be relentless and never to hold back. That’s the way that I played, period. He began to throw more and more blitzes up for me.
"He would call me in the offseason just to see how I was doing and even on off days just to get into, ‘I got a couple more things that I think you’re going to like.’ I was loving it because I’m being used in a different way. I wouldn’t say or take this lightly, but I don’t know if there would be a Weapon X or Wolverine personality on game day if Jim didn’t believe in me to use me the way he used me.”