Eagles CEO/Chairman Jeffrey Lurie
Opening Remarks: "Today we are here to honor one of the greatest Eagles of all-time and I think, in all of our estimation, one of the greatest NFL players of all-time. Anybody knows me knows that he's one of my personal favorites in my whole life of watching football, never mind owning the team. I think for all of us and the city of Philadelphia with all of our fans, the teammates, the coaches, he epitomized and epitomizes everything we love about the sport. It's hard to put into words and it's hard to encapsulate in one player the intensity, the passion, the love of the game, the appreciation of how special it was to be able to play the game at the highest possible level with a group of other teammates. He is an incredible team player and everything you'd ever want. It's a testimony that everyone has shown up today in the former players, current players, coaches, Vicky Johnson [wife of late defensive coordinator Jim Johnson]. It's not unexpected but it kind of says it all. I'm a little emotional talking about this, but this is Brian Dawkins we're talking about. I think that the thing to take away is that we're retiring somebody who is incredibly special both on and off the field, and there are incredible players who've come through Philadelphia and have meant so much to the city, but I don't know if anyone has connected to the fans of this city the way that Brian Dawkins has. It's been unbelievable, and it's been an unbelievable journey for all of us who have been a part of it and have watched him over the years. With that, we're going to make it short, sweet, and to the point that this is all about Brian. He is going to sign a contract to become a Philadelphia Eagle today."
[Dawkins signs one-day contract]
"Let me just say that this is just the first step in the process because on Sunday Night Football on Sept. 30 against the Giants, we're going to retire forever Brian Dawkins' #20. I hope the whole nation gets to see it because there is none better, and there never has been."
Head Coach Andy Reid
Opening Remarks: "I'm excited for Brian and his opportunity to start a second life with his great family right here. It's an incredible day for them. He put everything he had into this game, and now it's done. That candle has been blown out, and now he gets to start that second phase. As fired up as I was to see him play every Sunday, I'm even more fired up to see what he does with this second half because he's going to dominate this half just like did the last half. Congratulations to him. We all love Brian Dawkins and that's why we're in this room today and that's what it's all about."
Opening Remarks: "Wow, this is a blessing to be able to come here and retire as an Eagle, back where I started. Along the way, you learn things and you truly recognize the blessed people that you've been able to come in contact with. I've been able to come in contact with a lot of great people and a lot of great coaches who've allowed me to become the player that I am and the person and man that I have become. Along this journey, there was this great man who saw something in me and that was Jim Johnson. He saw something in me and began to use me in a different way than a lot of safeties were being used at the time. He believed in me. The thing that I've always carried and always been as a player is a person who didn't want to disappoint his coaches and gentlemen, I didn't want to disappoint y'all. Why did I play with so much emotion? Why did I do all of that? Because I loved to do what I do and I loved playing with my teammates. I loved playing for them. In Jim, I found that individual that believed in me to use me. When the game was on the line, the reason that I made so many big plays in crunch time is because Jim continued to call my number in crunch time. He knew I would do whatever it took and I would give up my body parts if I had to just to make sure his blitzes went on. I can thank him for that.
I know I'm shedding tears because I'm thinking back and reminiscing but this is a happy time for me. I chose to walk out the way that I'm walking out. As I walk down the aisle, you didn't see me limping and you didn't see my shoulders sag to one side or the other. My body is healthy and I feel great. I felt it was that time for me to step down and move on with the rest of my life so that my kids can see me in the house a little. Connie, I'd like to thank you, my beautiful wife. If anybody knows me - my teammates, you knew that I was here all the time. You know that I was one of the first people here, and I was always the last person to leave because I was getting my body back right after the game after the damage I had done to it that Sunday. Connie, you had patience and I thank you because you were basically a single mom those times. I thank you, baby.
This is the time that I reflect on because I had so many great times here. So many great times and so many big games. We had a lot of heartaches and a lot of tears, but the great times that we had and the runs that we went on will be something that will live in our hearts forever. I will always remember that. Fans, I thank you because listen, you put up with all that ranting, raving, and hollering, and you put it with that. You welcomed that into your households and your living rooms. So many times, I get letters and people asking me to sign jerseys for their loved ones to put in their coffins because I was their favorite player and they loved me that much. I thank you for welcoming me into your households and the way you welcomed me in there. Just know that I appreciate it and I heard what you said, and I still hear what you say about your love for this team and the Eagles, the people here, and your love for me. Believe me, that reverberates and comes right back to you because I love you guys just as well. I had a great run, I really did, and the Lord has blessed me to do this thing the way that I did for 16 years. If you saw me play, you know that I wouldn't be willing to ask these gentlemen to do anything I wasn't willing to do myself first. I would run into a brick wall full-tilt if I thought that would help my team win, and they knew that. I will take that intensity into the next phase of my life. I will do a little coaching, a little ministry work and whatever the Lord asks me to do, but I'll continue to follow my team here and be an asset if need be. For all the young guys who need me, my phone will be open and available for you. I thank you for everything that I have done here for the Philadelphia Eagles as I become one of the guys – I still can't believe that I'll be mentioned in the same sentence with these cats you see up here. Reggie White, a guy I look up to, I can't believe that. I look at things differently. The smallest safety from Jacksonville, Florida, and you've probably heard this before, a smallish safety from Jacksonville, Florida at the time I was drafted. Soaking wet, 190 pounds. At safety, that was not the norm. Playing 16 years in the National Football League. So many people would love to do that for a living and I did that for 16 years. I can't take that for granted. I can't say I deserved that, and the Lord blessed me with the ability so I went out there, gave it everything I had, and had a great time doing it. I will always remember this day and this will always be a part of me, all the time that I spent with the Philadelphia Eagles. Thank you very much."
On whether he can put his emotions he's feeling into words: "It's a joyous time, but at the same time, when you start thinking about the wars that we went through, the people that meant so much to you, and the things that we went through as teammates – each one of these gentlemen up here I went to war with. Those seasons where we went to those [NFC] Championship games, we had some turmoil, we had some down times and we had to grow together. A lot of times during the season we would call on a team meeting and we would have some heart-to-hearts and push forward to do some great things the second half of the season. All those emotions and thinking about all those times – and obviously this is the game I love. I love to do what I did. It's hard to put your emotions into words, but you can look at my face and hear my voice cracking every word I say to let you know what I'm feeling."
On whether this is his first time back since leaving: "Yes, yes."
On his feelings of walking back to the NovaCare Complex and seeing his old locker room: "It's obviously a familiar place to me. It's a place that I pulled up to and I knew how to get here with my eyes closed. Going into the locker room and seeing some of the people, you know, the staff, the cooks – all those people that I had so many chats and had so many great times with. It's a special feeling, man."
On why he feels like he connected with the fans so well: "In the beginning I think they saw that I hit and I was obligated to listen to them. I understood why they push us the way they pushed us, why they get on us the way they get on us. I understood that it's a city that works hard, you know, when they get on you they're going to get on you and you have to have thick skin through that short period. On the other side of that short period they're going to love you. Also, I wore my emotions on my sleeve. You can tell in the video that that's who I was. It wasn't an act, that's who I am. I'm a passionate man and the thing that I did for a living I did it that long and it just so happens that I was able to do it in an arena that allowed me to do that. You couldn't write and do that. Even if you wanted to, you couldn't go in the office and start screaming and yelling. You might want to do that, but you can't do that. I was at a place where I could do that and guys appreciated me for that because they knew that everything I said was coming from my heart."
On when he decided that he wanted to retire as an Eagle: "I kind of knew that right away. I was trying not to act surprised here, but obviously surprises don't happen with social media anymore. But I was surprised. Believe me I enjoyed my time in Denver. They blessed me, they really did. I played 13 years here and I gave everything that I had for 13 years here in Philadelphia. That, in itself, said that I needed to come back. If not for myself, I needed to come back for my teammates and come back for the fans that rooted me on for so many years."
On whether he signed letters for people for their coffins: "No, not signing letters for the people. I signed their jersey and they laid it with their loved ones in the coffin because I was their favorite player."
On whether that happened often: "Yes."
On his first impressions of former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson: "He was crazy. Some of the guys that were here, he would put in a new blitz and he's cursing people out. Using choice words, let's just put it like that, to individuals for getting the blitz wrong the first time out. I mean, you really don't see that. Usually people have a little patience to let you learn it. Jim wanted the blitzes run right the first time. When he put me out there he wanted the blitz done right the first time. On gameday and all that stuff, he's going to push you and he's going to get on you. By the end of the day, he would come back and say he was sorry because he loved you. He really cared about you and we knew that. When we first got here I thought he was crazy, I thought he was crazy."
On where his passion and leadership comes from: "Where does it come from? The things that are inside of me are things that were put there already. I just had to dig them out by reading the Word of God. So that's where I get a lot of my passion from. I try to treat people right is what I try to do. I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. I learned that obviously by reading the Word of God. That's where all my passion came from. Other than that, I would have to say that the fact that even when I was younger – I have always been this way – I just had to channel it the right way. I was a sore loser when I was little. I cried when I lost. I got mad when I shook other people's hands and my father told me I have to channel that in the right direction to be able to utilize that and learn from my mistakes. Learning how to play the game, learning how to play sports, that came from my father."
On whether he walks away from the game knowing that he left no stone unturned: "No stone unturned. Did I wish that some games had different results? Absolutely, absolutely. Like I said, at the time I did anything that I thought I could at the time for my teammates in the games that we played. I don't have any regrets. As much as I would want to look at anything negative, I'm just being real. As much as I would want to look at anything negative, I continue to take myself back to the fact that I played in the NFL. Man, listen, I played in the NFL. I would never allow myself to take that for granted. Never."
On when he realized that he was a leader of other men on the field: "When [former Eagles CB] Troy [Vincent] left. Usually I would lean on him for everything. I would say, ‘Troy's got it, Troy's got it.' Learning from him, learning from [former Eagles WR] Irving Fryar, he's another guy that I looked up to. Learning from [former Eagles LB William Thomas], he's another guy that I looked up to. Learning from those individuals taught me how to handle things. On how to handle things that once you begin to move on, some voids we left. At those times I felt led. I didn't say, ‘Oh, I knew that.' I felt led to begin, speaking up more and taking on a leadership role. A lot of people think that leaders are born and all that staff. No, I don't think I was born a leader. I think that I learned along the way from some great people and I developed a leadership style of my own. To be able to help my teammates and help my team succeed."
On whether he expected the team to retire his number: "I didn't know. That's not the norm, not everywhere. If it happened it happened, if it did not I couldn't be sour about it because, once again, I'm going to take you back to that point that I keep saying. I played in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles. Ownership was there for me. As much a part of me probably would want to do that, I would let that other part of me that understands how blessed I am to beat that down and put it in its proper place."
On knowing that the number 20 will never be worn again: "The Philadelphia Eagles – they've been in existence for a long time and a lot of people have worn that number throughout that time. To know that now, because of the way the Lord blessed me to play this game, nobody will ever wear it again. That's an honor, what an honor."