Brian Dawkins speaks during the 2018 NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Tom Benson Hall of… [+] Fame Stadium on August 4, 2018 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
In his 13 seasons as a Philadelphia Eagle and 3 seasons as a Denver Bronco, former safety Brian Dawkins delivered many, many hits, for a total of 247 tackles during his illustrious NFL career. But his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech on Saturday was a hit in a different way. Here is his speech in its entirety:
Not exactly a “ho-hum” speech. It wasn’t just a “ho-ho-ho” speech either. Dawkins spoke about the pain that he suffered as a player, including his struggles with depression. Here is what he said at the 4:30 mark:
See there was a purpose for my pain. There’s a purpose for my pain. As you’ve been listening, as you’ve probably read all this week, I suffer from depression. I went through it mightily in my rookie year. I suffered through suicidal thoughts. And I wasn’t just suffering through suicidal thoughts, I was actually planning the way that I would kill myself, so my wife would get the money.
This was the guy nicknamed “Weapon X,” the 9-time Pro Bowler, the guy who would deliver motivational speeches to his teammates before and during games, such as the one at the beginning of this video:
As you can imagine, soft gooey players don’t get nicknamed a “weapon.” In a city known for having tough fans (how many other cities can claim that they booed Santa Claus during a game), Dawkins’ play on the field earned him a reputation for toughness. But toughness doesn’t mean acting like everything is going well all the time. It takes real strength to admit your weaknesses and your struggles and to seek help. Bottling up your problems like a bottle of seltzer water on a mechanical bull isn’t a sign of strength. It just means that your problems will explode someday in an unexpected and potentially uncontrollable way.
Safety Brian Dawkins #20 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after making a sack during a game… [+] against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 21, 2008 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles won 15-6. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
If Dawkins had successfully executed his “plans” during his rookie year, he would never have become the face of the Eagles’ defense for much of the 2000’s. He wouldn’t have been around to help take the Eagles to the Super Bowl in 2004 or to be honored in Canton. But fortun