- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Denver safety Brian Dawkins has entered uncommon territory as he is about to enter his 16th season as an NFL safety.
DawkinsIn the history of the NFL, only Paul Krause and Eugene Robinson have played that long at the position. Dawkins, entering his third season in Denver, has taken time to reflect on the accomplishment.
“It’s crazy. I came into the league, and I was just trying to make the team. I knew I was a second-round draft pick or whatever, but nobody explained to me the rules of that, so I was just trying to make the team,” Dawkins said in quotes distributed by the team. “As it goes along I was like ‘Let me get vested and vested comes, and if I could get double digits [years] it would be awesome. Double digits came and went and I was still playing.’ Now it’s just as many as the good Lord’s blessed me with I’ll go out and do it. When [I heard] that stat, it just dialed in how long I’ve played in this game.”
A major reason why so few safeties last as long as Dawkins (who entered the league with Philadelphia in 1996) is because of the toll the position takes on the body. Dawkins is proud he entered the league as a safety and he will leave the league as a safety.
“Pure safety, not corner that turns safety, but pure safety,” Dawkins said. “If you look at the majority of the huge collisions, they come in that second level back there because we’re not like linebackers are, close to the line of scrimmage. D-linemen are right on the line of scrimmage. Safeties are 15-20 yards deep sometimes and we’re coming down on somebody that’s running full speed at us, so those collisions are very violent. So to be blessed to play the game as long as I’ve played it is an absolute blessing.”
Dawkins, 37, could be entering his final season. Injuries have worn on him and he might be slowing down. But new Denver coach John Fox wanted Dawkins, the biggest leader on the team, to stick around because he can still help on the field and because of his vocal presence. Dawkins will be remembered as an Eagle, but the timeless veteran has had an impact in Denver.