My all-time favorite Eagles player is no longer an Eagle.
It hasn't quite sunk in yet. I'm a bit mad, a bit out-raged, and more than a little bit saddened.
Brian Dawkins WAS the Eagles. He was the epitome of what a football player should be and how they should conduct themselves both on AND off the field.
It would be a lot easier to take if Dawk was retiring, but the idea that he's still going to keep playing, just elsewhere, is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow.
Do I begrudge the Eagles for letting him go? Yep, sure do. Do I hate the fact that money ruled the day and the business-side of the NFL reared its often ugly head? Yep, sure do. Do I think the Eagles are going to regret letting him go? Yep, sure do. Will I still keep rooting for the Birds? Yep, sure will.
Look I recognize that Dawk was more of situational player at this point in his career. I do. Its not like this D is losing a player in his prime, when Brian Dawkins was the predecessor to today's greats like Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu. Fuck, Dawkins, under JJ's guidance, re-invented what it meant to be a safety in the NFL. Does that mean the Eagles D won't be able to recover? No, it sure doesn't. The primary thing the Eagles must find with his departure is leadership and passion. There are few leaders with Dawkins charisma and presence in the NFL. That's why he's worth the money. Not the stats. Still, as uncomfortable as I was in 2007 and early 2008 watching Dawkins play, but just not quite be the same "B-Dawk", I was ecstatic to see his resurgence and gutsy play for the most of 2008. As a few of the writers said, its primarily because JJ decided to modify Dawkins role, and use him closer to the line, more of a Rodney Harrison run-support guy. Brian could still make some plays in the D-backfield, but even a staunch supporter like me knows, deep down, as much as I hate to admit it. He is no longer a sideline to sideline guided missile. He's an adequate pass defender these days, not the roving play-making machine that we all grew to love.
All that said. Given the Eagles cap room. I'd have paid him. and I think that is far and away the majority sentiment for Philly fans. Its one thing if you don't have the space and have to make tough choices and let folks get away. Its another to be sitting on big pile of room, and not commit the $$$ to keep perhaps the greatest defensive player to ever don an Eagles uniform, and if he's not, then Reggie White is, and Brian Dawkins is #2.