Known as Weapon X when he was a dominant safety, former Eagles player Brian Dawkins was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday night.
During the ceremony in Canton, Ohio, Dawkins delivered a powerful speech and, as he promised, cried during it.
“I did not do this by myself,” he said, thanking his family, coaches, teammates, doctors, and teachers.
One of the hardest-hitting and most versatile safeties in NFL history, Dawkins stared at his bust and nodded his approval to the crowd.
“The majority of success that I have had has come on the back end of pain,” he said, noting that he suffers from depression, and that his rookie year with the Eagles in 1996 was especially difficult.
Wearing his gold Hall of Fame jacket, Dawkins spoke openly about how he contemplated ending his own life, coming up with ways to do it so his wife and children would be left with his money. But, as he recently told the Philadelphia Inquirer, it was Dawkins’ wife Connie who helped pull him back from the brink.
Now, Dawkins says there was “a purpose for my pain.”
“I have grown leaps and bounds because of the things that I’ve gone through, and that’s one of those things that I went through,” he said. “And when I say ‘went through,’ that mean I came out on the other side of it, so for those who are going through 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.”
Dawkins became the leader of an Eagles defense that made four straight NFC championship games and one Super Bowl, and he thanked Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie, who was at the ceremony Saturday night, for his trust in him.
And while he closed out his career with three seasons in Denver, the connection with Philly will never fade for a man who grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and attended Clemson University.
Dawkins ended his speech with an emotional shout-out to his Philadelphia fans.
“I know some of you drove all the way from Philly here,” he said. “And listen, I have a good understanding that you don’t have money just to waste, so that means that 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, and I love you back.”
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.