Brian Dawkins' HOF Speech Will Be Just Like How He Played Football – Emotional

CANTON, Ohio – Brian Dawkins was asked Friday if he was "open to" getting emotional during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech on Saturday.

"Did you say open?" Dawk answered, glaring in mock horror. "Am I open to it? Am I open to it? Am I going to be emotional? I'm going to be emotional regardless."

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Asking Dawk if he's planning to be emotional is like asking Usain Bolt if he's planning to be fast. 

Dawkins is as emotional as any athlete of his generation. We've seen it for two decades.

And as he prepares for the biggest speech of his life, he knows his emotions will be off the charts.

"I try my best to speak from my heart," he said. "Do I think water is going to come out of my eyes? That I'm going to cry a whole bunch of times? I know that."

Dawkins, who spent his first 13 NFL seasons in Philadelphia, on Saturday will become only the ninth pure safety enshrined into the Hall of Fame and only the seventh player who spent the majority of his career with the Eagles.

His speech is certain to be riveting and emotional and powerful. Nobody wears their heart on their sleeve like Dawk.

He'll talk about his unique relationship with Eagles fans. He'll talk about what made him play the game the maniacal way he played it. He'll talk about his battle with depression and his relationship with his wife, Connie. He'll talk about his teammates and coaches. He'll talk about Jim Johnson. 

One thing he didn't do is write out the speech in advance.

"At this point in my life, I don't write out speeches anymore," he said. "I write down points. I have subject matter that I elaborate on from my heart.

"I'm very open to being led by the spirit when I talk."

This is Dawk's second trip to Canton. He was here with the Eagles in 2006 when Reggie White was inducted and the Eagles played the Raiders in the Hall of Fame Game.

But Dawk said during that visit, even though he was already a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time all-pro, the Hall of Fame wasn't on his radar.

"I was thinking it would be cool to be that, it would be wonderful if that ever happened, but I didn't understand at that point that it was possible for me to be at this level," he said. "My mind was not stretched to the Hall of Fame. It just wasn't.

"The Hall of Fame part of this story happened and it wasn't something I wasn't deliberately saying, ‘I'm going to be a Hall of Fame during my career.' I just didn't. I just didn't."

The incoming Hall of Famers are treated like royalty during their three days in Canton. There are appearances, dinners, parades and lots of opportunities to spend time with some of the 50 or so current Hall of Famers who are here for this year's ceremony.

Dawk said he's been soaking up every minute of it.

"Like a kid in a candy store, in a lot of respects," he said. "Get a chance to see some of the greats, and it really takes you back, the feelings and emotions back to when you were a kid. You know?

"Watching those guys play on TV. Watching the Steelers back in the day with 'Mean' Joe Greene and watching them do their thing and now you're in the (Hall of Fame with him).

"It's a tremendous opportunity to say thank you to a lot of guys. One of the first guys I got to say thank you to was Ronnie Lott and how much he meant to me and my career, because he's one of the guys I modeled my game after.

"So to see him and hug him, it's such a blessing. It's a tremendous opportunity for me to just say thank you to a lot of guys."

About 25,000 men have played in the NFL.

Only 310 are in the Hall of Fame.

Dawk beat incredible odds just to make it into the league.

And he beat incredible odds to become one of the greatest of all-time.

"All those individuals who stepped on the field at different times and to know that right now I'm one of the individuals that will be in Canton forever, first thing I think about is individuals who helped me along the way," he said.

"So many people who blessed me with different things, different thoughts, lifting me up out of the hole of different things that I was going through at different times in my life."

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