Hey Jeffrey Lurie, Bring in Brian Dawkins

Brian Dawkins in his classic tackle picture against the New York Giants.When Chip Kelly provided the names of his coaching staff, I was one of many Eagles’ fans hoping Brian Dawkins would be one of them. At one point it even seemed likely, especially after Kelly paid Dawkins a visit at an event Dawkins hosted at Chickie & Pete’s in late January. Alas, it was not so, and I now think Dawkins, while perhaps open to coaching in the NFL one day, is more devoted to his family and would not necessarily want to spend the amount of time away from his wife and children that coaching requires. However, I have a proposal…

Jeffrey Lurie has demonstrated an ability to think outside the box. He also seems to have surrounded himself with like-minded individuals, especially recently. In the spirit of Chip Kelly’s hiring of Shaun Huls as Sports Science Coordinator, I propose Lurie create a new front office position for Dawkins: Director of Leadership and Impact. Here’s why:

Brian Dawkins was an impact player on the field. During his thirteen year career as a Philadelphia Eagle, Dawkins started 182 games, recorded 21 sacks, 913 tackles, 34 interceptions, and forced 32 fumbles. He was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times and named an All-Pro six times. During the 2002 season, in a game against the Houston Texans, he became the first player in NFL history to sack the quarterback, register an interception (27 yard return), force a fumble, and record a touchdown reception (57 yards, from Brian Mitchell) in the same game. He also recorded six tackles and defended two passes. Oh, and he’s famous for tackling like this:

Brian Dawkins is also an impact player off the field. He has served as Vice President of the NFL Players Association Executive Committee and before that was an NFLPA rep. In 2005, he was named the Philadelphia Eagles Man of the Year for his charitable work and contributions to his community. Three years later he was honored as the Byron “Whizzer” White NFL Man of the Year, a community-based award named after Supreme Court Justice Byron White, a three time NFL All-Pro and NFL rushing champion known for his humanitarian work. And in January 2012, Dawkins was presented with Clemson University’s inaugural Brian Dawkins Clemson Lifetime Achievement Award, an award that will be presented annually to a former Clemson player who has been out of school for at least ten years and, like Dawkins, epitomizes what it means to be a Clemson football player on and off the field.  How many people in the world, in history, receive awards named after themselves?

Fans in Philadelphia love Dawkins for his on-field persona. He is Wolverine, Weapon X, Idiot Man. His name and image are synonymous with being an Eagle. His legacy is all over Nova Care. But his off-field persona is equally vibrant. As Director of Leadership and Impact, Dawkins can instill in current and future Eagles players the on- and off-field intensity, the leadership and impact that players in Philadelphia are want to have, especially from its fans. When Dawkins speaks, others listen. When he acts, others follow.

But perhaps nothing best illustrates Dawkins’ impact than this… One January day in Denver a few years ago, Dawkins presented a check for $11,000 to the Salvation Army at Red Shield Community Center. After the presentation, he answered questions from some kids awaiting autographs. One boy asked Dawkins if he was a football player. Dawkins smiled and answered, “Sometimes.”

Nope, he’s not just a player. Nor would he be just a coach. To Philadelphia, he is, and means, so much more. This is why Lurie needs to bring him in.

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Jerome's Friend

Jerome's Friend is a native Philadelphian raised properly by great parents who taught him to love the Eagles and abhor the Cowboys. A new parent himself, he hopes to instill those same fundamental values in his son, who at five months-old can already spike a football. If you follow him on Twitter (@JeromesFriend), you'll also find his Eagles and Philadelphia sports blog, Philly's Inferno, where he resides as a Friend of Jerome.