Brian Dawkins, number one in your heart and number 24 in your program. Twenty-four?
That's right, as only the deadest of die-hard Eagles fans will remember, Dawkins originally wore No. 24 when he joined the Eagles as a second-round pick in 1996. But after the Eagles' third preseason game that summer, the team released running back Vaughn Hebron, who, until then, had possession of No. 20 for the Eagles.
So the fresh-faced rookie summoned enough fortitude to ask for a jersey change.
"I had to muster up the courage to go ask Rusty," Dawkins told the assembled media on Friday, referring to Rusty Sweeney, the equipment manager at the time. "I don't know if you all remember Rusty, you couldn't ask Rusty for nothing, I had to muster up the courage to go ask Rusty if I could change numbers.
"With a scowl on his face, he said, 'Alright.'"
Why did Dawkins want No. 20 to begin with?
"The way that I got 20, I've always loved the number two, I'm a second son," Dawkins said. "I've always loved the number two. When I got to Clemson, I had the number 39 first and then I had the number 37. Those numbers didn't do anything for me. And then when I finally got a chance, Larry Ryans, he had the number before me at Clemson, when he moved on, he was a Senior, I had a chance to see that. I loved number two, and there was a zero behind it, I'm fine with that but I love the number two. One of my favorite players was Barry Sanders, so that was the icing on everything."
So it began, the long road of 194 regular season and postseason games for Dawkins in an Eagles uniform, all of them played with the No. 20 adorned over his chest and back. And now, no one will ever wear that number for the Eagles again as Dawkins' famed jersey will be officially retired on Sunday night.
Don't forget, you can watch all of the Brian Dawkins festivities on Sunday right here on PhiladelphiaEagles.com, beginning at 6 PM. And if you're coming to the game, make sure you're in your seats by 7:45 PM. You don't want to miss the pre-game celebration of the Eagles' last No. 20.
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