Ask any Eagles fan for the most memorable play in Brian Dawkins' career and their eyes will probably light up as they tell you about the time Weapon X demolished huge tight end Alge Crumpler after a long catch in the 2004 NFC Championship Game against the Falcons.
That was the play.
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But in a recent and lengthy interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia's Derrick Gunn, in advance of Dawkins' upcoming Hall of Fame induction, Dawkins revealed that the legendary hit on Crumpler isn't his most memorable hit on an opponent. His came many years earlier, during Andy Reid's first season as Eagles head coach and Jim Johnson's first season as defensive coordinator in 1999.
"Most memorable for fans would probably be my Alge Crumpler," Dawkins admitted. "For me, it was Fred Lane. That hit, if you can go find that one."
Good news, Dawk. We found it.
OK, yeah, that's pretty good. To set the scene, this was early in the second quarter of a 33-7 loss to the Panthers at Ericsson Stadium on Nov. 7, 1999. So the stakes clearly weren't as high in this one during the 5-11 season as the Crumpler hit in the NFC Championship Game. But it clearly meant something to Dawkins, who at the time was in his first Pro Bowl season of nine.
In that small area, within three yards, four yards, I was able to generate the amount of force that I generated to basically run through a 230-pound running back. Not only stop him in his tracks but send him completely going backwards until he landed literally on the back of his neck as I flew over the top of him. And he was actually trying to run and come and run me over. And I'm not saying that he was giving himself up. I actually ran through a grown man within that short period of time. So to generate that much power within those least amount of steps, that's my most memorable one for me. Because it surprised the heck (out of me). Because when I saw it on film, I was like ‘oh my goodness, did I do that?'
That goes back to some of the things that I do, it's not normal. So I knew that and I began to see it more and more as I watched film. That's why I like to watch film so much of myself. I would just see, how much, ‘Lord, how much did you put in me?' Like, how can I get from there to there so quickly? So I began to amaze myself with some of the things that I was doing on the field. When I look at things from that angle, and I knew it was not me. I was just working hard and I was studying my playbook, but the ability to generate that much force, that's not just squats. That's a different, that's an anointing. That's something that He put and gifted me to be able to do. That's my most memorable one because, again, to be able to do that and he was one of the more … physical running backs during that time.
Lane, who played three seasons in the NFL before he was shot and killed in 2000, was sent flying backward and lost three yards on the play (on 2nd-and-goal) that was snapped from the Eagles' 1-yard line.
The Panthers scored on a pass to Muhsin Muhammad on the next play and went on to crush the Eagles, but that play always stood out to Dawk, even though there would be many more incredible hits during his Hall of Fame career.
A special Brian Dawkins edition of Quick Slants will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia at 6:30 p.m. tonight as the city prepares for his Hall of Fame induction on Aug. 4.