It's been nearly three years since Brian Dawkins left the Eagles and signed with the Denver Broncos.
This offseason, the 16-year veteran will decide whether his playing days are over.
Dawkins last played a full game in Week 13. He saw limited action in Weeks 14 and 16 and was sidelined for both playoff games because of a neck injury.
On Friday, he joined Jeremiah Trotter and Harry Mayes of 97.5 The Fanatic to discuss his future.
"I'm going to take this offseason, pray about it, and whatever the Lord puts in my heart, I'll do at this point," he said. "I've been blessed to play this game for a long time at a high level. The Lord has blessed me to do it, and blessed me to make another Pro Bowl here so I'm going to take this time off, enjoy my family and pray about it. And if the Broncos want me back, then I'll come back and play, if the Lord tells me another year is available for me."
Dawkins turned 38 in October. He was recently added to the Pro Bowl roster after Troy Polamalu backed out because of injury. He talked about the different things he has to do during the week just to get ready to play on Sundays: the stretching, massages, acupuncture, trips to the chiropractor, etc.
"It definitely takes a lot of time and effort on my part to get my body back ready to be able to do what my teammates expect me to be able to do on the football field that next Sunday," Dawkins said. "I go out and I give everything that I have, whether it be running into the linemen, running into the running backs, whatever the case may be."
Dawkins said part of him hated seeing the Eagles' struggles this past season. He admitted he has no inside knowledge of the Birds' locker room or what went wrong, but Dawkins spoke about how the Eagles can turn things around.
"It takes chemistry. Sometimes going through tough times can allow you to build something from that, but you have to be willing to admit mistakes. You have to be willing to say you were wrong in some areas and correct areas in order to improve," he said. "So can things turn around? Absolutely. But will it happen just because? No. it's going to take some leadership. It's going to take some people willing to swallow some pride to get the season turned around for them next year."
The best part of the interview was when Dawkins talked about leadership. He discussed how he and Trotter policed the Eagles' locker room and held players accountable. It was a long-winded response, but one worth sharing in full.
"We were blessed to have a great rapport with our teammates," Dawkins said. "They trusted us because they knew we would never tell them to do anything that we wouldn't be willing to do. We would never tell them to cut out doing this, that and the other because they knew we would do it. We would always tell them to run into somebody full speed because they know we would do it. If we're missing a tackle, we would let them know: I was wrong. I gotta make that play. There's no excuse for that. They know we would be first to say that to them.
"So when we do come to them about something, they know it's from a good place. It's not from a place of pride or arrogance or 'I'm better than you.' It's a place of 'Listen, this is what has to be done in order for us to fix what we're going through right now. We're going to have to close the doors. We're going to have to make sure we have a conversation, and once we have this conversation, the conversation stays in here. But the play outside has got to get better in order for us to get to where we got to be. Period.' So that's what it was. It was about believing in one another. They were believing in me, believing in Trot. And they saw it. They saw me running into 350-pound dudes taking on blocks. They saw it. So it was nothing new to them. It was about being energetic, not being fake."
Trotter admitted he got chills just listening to Dawkins' response. He also asked his former teammate if he'd consider finishing his career with the Eagles.
"The place that I would be is with the Broncos," Dawkins said. "My family's here, I'm here now. My kids are in school here. I'm not moving them nowhere. So the place that I would be would be here with the Broncos if they gave me a chance to play. And that's if the lord put it in my heart to play another year."
But he added he has no ill will toward the Eagles' organization or the city.
"There will always be a huge part of my heart that's Eagles," Dawkins said. "That'll never go away. I spent too many great times, too many great years there to hold a grudge or have any animosity towards the Eagles. That'll always be a place that I'll call a home. I'll always have love in my heart for the city of brotherly love."