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Transcript Of Brian Dawkins' Hall Of Fame Induction Speech

"First of all, hallelujah!

"As you look on my shirt, it says, 'Blessed by the Best.' And throughout my life, the Lord has blessed me with so many individuals, so if it was up to me Hall of Fame, this is what I would do with my jacket if you would appease me. I would like to put every last one of the individuals that I told you was special in my life in my jacket somewhere, so every time that I put this thing on it reminds me, it reminds me visually and emotionally that I did not do this by myself because I did not do this by myself. I did not.

"To my big brother, Troy (Vincent), brother, I thank you. I thank you for the example you set for me. You were a rabbit for me to chase, the way that you handled your business, your techniques on the field. I look up to you and that's why I had you present me so thank you for being the man that you are that allowed me to look at you, model myself after you, and become the man that I've become. Thank you, my brother.

"Sapp, P-Sapp (Patrick Sapp, former Raines High School and Clemson teammate). Brother man, you were my rabbit I chased all through high school. Brother, you were that dude. I wanted much success for you but I wanted to come get you, brother. I wanted to supplant you to be that dude.

"Listen, I know I didn't do it by myself. There's coaches, there's teachers, my family - I'll talk about them later, doctors because I'm a physical safety so I was beat up quite a bit, trainers, massage therapists, my teammates. Listen, I have a healthy dose of fear of letting you down. That's why I went so doggone hard. I never wanted to let you down. I didn't. Anything that I could do for you, you know I would do for you and it's not just those who are sitting here, looking at me now. For all of you looking at this on TV, I gave everything I had till the last drop for you because I loved you so doggone much. So thank you. When I put this jacket on, Jacksonville became another Hall of Famer, the North Side/Duval County became another Hall of Famer, over on the North side of town, Yancey Park, they have a Hall of Famer. My Pop Warner team, Forest View, they have a Hall of Famer. My high school, Raines High School, has a Hall of Famer. Clemson, you have a Hall of Famer and you are a Hall of Famer.

"Football was what I did, but it's not who I am. It did not define me. I repeat the same things that (fellow Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee) Brian Urlacher said. I am a blessed man of God. And the Lord has blessed me to do the things that I do. And so nothing just happens in my life. The majority of success I have had has come on the back end of pain. Pain has pushed me to levels unknown. For me at the time, all I know that was pain but on the other side of it, all of a sudden, I became better in an area. So when we go through those situations in our lives, pain helps you develop those things that is going to take you to the next level of whatever it is the Lord has for you. Believe that. I'm a living testimony of that. See there's a purpose for my pain. There's a purpose for my pain.

"As you've been listening, as you read this week, I suffer from depression. I went through it mightily my rookie year. I've suffered through suicidal thoughts. And I wasn't just suffering through suicidal thoughts, I was actually planning the way I would kill myself so my wife would get the money.

"But what that pain did for me, it increased my faith exponentially. I have grown leaps and bounds because of the things that I've gone through, and that's one of those things I went through. When I say, went through, that means I came on the other side of it. So for those who are going through it right now, there's hope. You do have hope. There is something on the other side of this. Don't get caught up where you are. Don't stay where you are. Keep moving. Keep pushing through.

"It wasn't supposed to be me. This wasn't supposed to happen to Brian Dawkins. It was not. I was not the biggest of guys growing up. I was not always the dude, that's why I was chasing Pat so doggone much. But it was never me. I was always called, 'Little this,' 'Little that.' I got tired of that crap, so I grew a chip on my shoulder but what also began to grow was anger in me. The anger in my became violent anger that I would lose control of every once in a while. And the Lord spoke to me, He said, 'When you have that type of energy, let's think about the water, let's think about the flood. When a flood comes, it comes, and it washes everything out of its way. But when you put a dam up, and then you put vents in it to allow water to flow through the dam, it gives you energy. Endless. So when you see me crawling like that, when you see me acting a fool, that's some of that energy that I let out from that anger that I had bottled up. Yeah, that chip on my shoulder.

"I'm not looking down on those who talked about me, but I want to thank my haters. I want to thank those people that told me through other people that I wouldn't be where I am today, that I couldn't make it because I was too small, because I couldn't do this, that, or the other. But what the Lord told me was listen, you know the turbines that you have that the wind pushes, and you can generate energy from it? Guess what their words were to me? They just pushed my turbine. They gave me even more energy so my haters became my elevators. They helped me out so thank you. Thank you for all those who kept doubting me and told me what I couldn't do.

"I have some thank-yous to get through. I'm going to be respectful of others' time, so I got some thank-yous to get to. Coach (Freddie) Stephens, my high school coach, he's here today. Coach Stephens, I want to thank you and I want to thank you for allowing me to play defense, coach, and not letting me play offense. When I ask you if I can do to the defensive side of the ball, you said, 'Yes,' and Coach Stephens, I thank you for that because on that defensive side of the ball is where I love and where I live and where I'm blessed to be, so thank you. Coach (Kenneth) Black. Coach Black was my high school defensive backs coach. Coach Black, here's what I want to tell you. I want to thank you for allowing me to come into your office when I was struggling in school, when I was questioning whether I could even go to college because I didn't know what I didn't know at that time, and it was so hard for me to learn. You tutored me. You helped me. You brought people into the classroom to tutor me, to help me get my grades up, to even get a chance to go to Clemson. Listen, you didn't know this, my major is because of you. Industrial education, human resource development is because of you, so thank you for your trust in me. Thank you for showing me the way, brother. Thank you.

"To my late high school basketball coach, Coach (James) Humphrey. What Coach Humphrey taught me is that if he can't break me, nobody can, because we ran more than the track team. We did so many, usually people would run 20 laps, 15 laps. Coach Humphrey would have us run 100 laps, 50 laps, 75 laps. There were times we didn't touch the ball. We ran the whole practice. And then we think we were about to start doing some basketball drills, he would say, 'Alright, see you next time.' So when I went through that pain, what he taught me is that if he can't break me, nobody can break me. So what he did Philadelphia was he got me mentally strong to be able to survive anything that you can dish out to me. Anything.

"I want to thank Ray Rhodes, Mr. John Wooten, for believing in me, bringing me. I want to thank Mr. Jeffrey Lurie. Thank you for bringing me to the Philadelphia Eagles, for trusting in me, the smallest safety from Jacksonville, Florida. I'm going to try and hold on. Emmitt Thomas. Emmitt, I want to thank you. I want to thank you, where are you at, E? Nah, I can't because I'm going to start crying. E, you blessed me. I call you Uncle Emmitt for a reason. When I was in those depressive states, when I was thinking about suicide, it was because of your hand, your guidance, and your believing in me, helping me to go see somebody about the struggles that I was having that allowed me to be alive today. You're one of those guardian angels that blessed by the best, yes. I've been blessed and he's one of the best. So Emmitt, thank you. But also what Emmitt did for me is Emmitt would not let me settle for average. He would not let me settle for good. He saw greatness in me that I did not see. He saw something in me and would not let me settle. He kept pushing. He was hard. I was angry sometimes. I would have a good game. 'No, you didn't. You should have made that. You saw that play. You should have made this.' So he kept pushing me. So ET, the player that Jim Johnson got, and I'm going to thank him in a second, the player that Jim Johnson got to do everything that he did is because of you, and your love for me. So, thank you, Uncle Emmitt. Thank you.

"Then, there's Jim Johnson. The late, great Jim Johnson. Jim, thank you. Thank you. I know Jim is looking down on us. I know that he's looking down on us. It's because of Jim and the way he used me all over the field, I'm blessed to put up the numbers that I put up, and blessed my teammates, and blessed the city, so thank you, Jim. Andy Reid, I want to thank you for believing in this smallest safety as well. You trusted me to lead. You trusted me to lead, and what you did also was you continued to help me out when I was trying to do too much, Andy, you always brought me back down so that I could do my job first and help others second, so thank you, Andy.

"But I got some of the greatness coming in me right now, the greatness in my genes I want to talk about because I knew some of it, I didn't know all of it. But there's greatness in these genes. There's greatness. See, my grandmom, Altamese Dawkins just celebrated her 100th birthday in July. One hundred. And she sung a melody, a couple of songs in an opera voice, so she still has her wits. She still has her lung capacity, and those are wonderful things, both of those, but she is an anointed woman of God. What I saw in her is what a Christian really was, so I saw on a daily basis who that was, I can look to her, understand what I need to do to be something like her because I love her to death and thank God for her being in my life.  

"Then there's my grandfather. My grandfather, Ralph Dawkins Sr., was the first African-American golfer to win a tournament in the state of Florida in an African-American golf tournament. There was greatness in there. My mom (Patricia Dawkins). My mom, my mom, my mom. You want to know where the fighter in me comes from, yes, that's my mom. My mom. My mom has survived a couple of strokes. She survived breast cancer. Hey, don't let that sheepish smile fool you. She's a pitbull when it's all said and done. She looks out for her family, and she taught me this. She said, 'Brian, if you ever get in a fight, don't start it. But finish it. And if they're bigger than you, pick up something and knock the out of them until they get you off of them.' That's why I finish everything. If we're going to fight, we're going to fight. You may whup me, but we going to fight. They're going to have to come get me off, and that came from my mom.

"My dad (Ralph Jr.), I think you, pops, man, can you see the lid that he's wearing? I wear those types of lids too because of that man right there. I love him to death. And what he blessed me with is he showed me what a man is supposed to be. How he is supposed to treat a wife. How he is supposed to be a giver, a provider. My dad worked sometimes two or three jobs, hustle jobs, to make ends meet at home. So pops, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And here's the other thing my dad taught me, when I wanted to quit in one of those painful situations in Pop Warner, my dad told me when you start something, you finish it. And you don't have a bad attitude. I better not have a coach come home talking you have a bad attitude. When you start something, you finish it. I think also because he paid his money, he was like, you know. But what that did is, there's a finisher in me. There's a finisher in me that won't quit and those two - my mom and my dad - provided me with something now you see in front of you, that grit, that determination, that fire, and then that ability to never quit, to never give in came from my mom and dad. Thank you.

"My kids, Brian Jr., I'm proud I gave you my name, brother. I'm proud I gave you my name. I'm proud of the young man you're becoming. Brionni, love you. I love the personality that you have. I love you, sweetheart. The twins, now a lot of times when people say twins, they say, 'Uh oh, double trouble.' Nope. Oh, oh, double blessings because that's what they are to me. Chonni and CiCi (Cionni), love you, love you, love you. And when I wanted to provide for you, I want to provide for you one of the most important things that you can have, and that's a powerful name. So I pray that the name that I'm going to give you will bless you to get a step up real quick in this world. So I'm going to continue to build this name because I'm still growing, right, I'm still able to live my life, but I want to let you know that I live the life that I live for them (pointing to the crowd), yes, but for you first. So thank you.

"I want to make sure I acknowledge my sister, Marian, and my brother, Ralph Dawkins III. Ralph, I thank you for what you showed me. You showed me that it's possible for me to get out of Jacksonville to go to college. I saw that through you, and I saw that it was possible to get to the NFL because you got there first. I saw that in you, and I saw that in your work ethic and I modeled some of that stuff. So, some of the stupid stuff that I did was I would go and run in the heat of the day in Jacksonville, Florida with a trash bag on. Now Pat just told you I was already skinny. Now my brother was doing it because he was trying to slim down a little bit, so I saw him do it and I did it which was very dumb but all of those things I did was because I saw you.

"Last, but not least, is my beautiful bride Connie. Blessed by the best once again. The other part of me being here is because of that woman, because of Connie, because of you, because of your urging for me to go see a psychiatrist, a psychologist to talk about my problems and be more open with you about my problems so we could talk things out. You prayed for me. You were there for me. You would not let me settle and for that, I want to present something to you today. I have my gold jacket, right, but what I want to present to you, sweetheart, is something golden as well, so can we get that out real quick? (Connie receives a gold veil.) Yes, could you stand up sweetheart and put that gold veil on? Yeah, that's my Hall of Fame wife right there. Yes, sir. That's my Hall of Fame bride right there. Yes.

"Don't settle in this life. Don't settle. Don't allow yourself to settle. Push through the pain. On the other side of that pain is something special for you to go in the next level of what God has for you. Now see, my (Hall of Fame) number is 313, right. So, three, the first three, I think about the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. That's the Trinity, right? Second 13 I think about my birthday because I was born on October 13, 1973. Now, if you three plus one plus three, I believe that's seven. And so many of you believe that to be the number of completion, right? So this chapter of my life is complete, it is. But I believe that this next chapter is going to be something special with His guidance. And the only way I can have that thought in my head is the fact that I think and I believe that there's going to be some painful things to come. It is. I know it is. But I'm prepared for the pain. I'm prepared to push through it. I'm a persevere through it with His help and His guidance. And with that purpose and with that pain, I'm going to be able to bless so many more people with what God has put inside of me. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

"And, finally, let's talk about these Eagles fans. I know some of you drove all the way from Philly here. Hey listen, I have a good understanding that you don't have money just to waste, so that means you put hard-earned money that you could be saving to come out here and celebrate with your boy. So thank you! Thank you for loving me the way that I love you. I love you back. And I thank you. Thank you for everything. Finally, what I want to say is, thank you, Heavenly Father, for blessing me with the sense to understand that I did not do everything by myself, that You have guided me the whole way, that I've had wonderful people around me that You placed in perfect positions to reach me. That You orchestrated my life, even though my plans want to do the opposite. You've stayed faithful to me and You continue to push me and You continue to pull me towards a purpose. So I thank you Heavenly Father, and I can't wait - I can't wait - to see what You're going to do with me next. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

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