Last week, Brian Dawkins sat by himself on the metal bleachers at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. He had ear buds tucked in his ears and a signature skull cap wrapped around his head as he took notes.
He watched the Senior Bowl practice on the field below him and tried to find a player who reminded him of ... well ... Brian Dawkins.
Over 20 years after Dawkins performed as a Senior Bowl participant, the Eagles great is back with the organization as an executive in football operations as he waits to find out if he'll make the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his first try, something that's not easily done. He'll find out Saturday.
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"No, not really stressed," Dawkins said while appearing on CSN's Quick Slants on Wednesday night. "The most stressful thing is trying to figure out what to wear."
Dawkins, 43, said he wasn't originally planning on attending the festivities during Super Bowl weekend in Houston but has since changed his mind.
When asked what he decided to wear, Dawkins lovingly declined to comment. Whatever he wears, it'll probably be good. After all, his style on the field defined a generation of Eagles football and forever endeared him to the fans in Philadelphia.
It remains to be seen if the Hall of Fame voting committee will decide to allow Dawkins passage on his first attempt, but it seems pretty clear that he's a deserving member. Just look at the numbers: nine Pro Bowls, four All-Pro selections, 34 interceptions, 36 forced fumbles, 15 fumble recoveries, 26 sacks.
He's one of six players in NFL history with 25 sacks and 25 interceptions.
"I think that what I was blessed to do and what (longtime defensive coordinator) Jim (Johnson) allowed me to do, what (former DC) Emmitt (Thomas) and (former head coach) Ray (Rhodes) brought out of me, the things that I was able to do with those numbers should be someone that represents all of those individuals," he said. "Not just me. So when I make it, I'm not just representing myself. I'm representing so many other people that saw so many qualities in me that I did not see and utilized them, in my opinion, to redefine the position of safety."
Dawkins, along with 14 other finalists, including Terrell Owens, will find out his fate on Saturday night before Super Bowl Sunday.
Whatever happens Saturday night, Dawkins has already taken a complete dive into his role with the Eagles, although that role is pretty undefined. His title is "executive/football," which doesn't seem to mean a whole lot. He said whatever he does, he just wants to make sure it helps the team. Sometimes that means mentoring young players and sometimes, like it did in Mobile last weekend, it means trying to find future players.
Earlier this week, fellow Hall of Fame finalist John Lynch was named the 49ers' general manager after previously holding a job as a network analyst. It seemed like a big jump for anyone, and Dawkins thinks the 49ers aren't simply throwing Lynch in the deep end; there are people within the organization who can help him make decisions and even make some of those decisions until he's ready.
"In my opinion, he's the GM in training, they're just not saying it like that," Dawkins said.
It seems like Dawkins might be a GM in training, too. On Wednesday night, he was asked if he has a desire to rise to that level within a front office.
"I'm not going to limit myself to anything, but that's definitely something that I can see potentially happening down the road at some point," he said. "But right now, I'm learning and giving at the same time. I'm giving up myself and the things I've learned, the things that I've been able to be blessed to communicate with my teammates to help them become them. I'm trying to do those same things with my new teammates, being in the front office and those guys on the field."
It feels like not that long ago Dawkins was still one of those players on the field, reeling in interceptions and delivering big hits. It's been just about 12 years since Dawkins and the Eagles lined up in Super Bowl XXXIX against the Patriots in Jacksonville.
What's his fondest memory of that Super Bowl?
"I don't know if I have a fond memory, bro," Dawkins said answering Derrick Gunn's question. "We lost."
That's the competitive nature we've all grown to expect from him. That's the competitive nature that took Dawkins from a kid at the Senior Bowl hoping to prove himself to a guy who might get the call to the Hall of Fame in a few days.