ENGLEWOOD – Denver Broncos safety Brian Dawkins said he’s not quite sure what reception he’ll get in Philadelphia.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” said Dawkins, who played 13 seasons with the Eagles and plays at Philadelphia for the first time on Sunday. “I know Philadelphia, as fans, they’re diehard for their team. If you’re on the opposing team, you’re no longer on their team, so I don’t expect 100 percent cheers.”
Based on the outpouring of affection for Dawkins from Eagles fans, he is probably underestimating how the fans will react.
Dawkins became one of the most beloved players in Eagles history. Fans enjoyed his passion and hard-hitting style. He had a connection with Philadelphia fans that most athletes don’t experience.
“Philly is a blue-collar place, they work hard for what they have,” Dawkins said. “They want someone to care as much as they do on the football field. If they don’t feel like you’re giving your all, if they don’t feel you’re pouring yourself out on the field, they’ll let you know about it. They’re not going to hold their tongues.”
Broncos running back Correll Buckhalter, who played eight seasons with the Eagles, will also return to Philadelphia for the first time.
“I think me and ‘Dawk’ will get a good reception,” said Buckhalter, who missed last week’s game with an ankle injury but expects to play Sunday. “I think the fans will embrace us pretty good.”
“(Dawkins) and ‘Buck’ I think played a large role in a lot of the success they’ve had over the years,” Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said. “I’m sure those people in Philadelphia appreciate them greatly, and they should. I’m sure they feel the same way about their experience there.”
No matter what the individual response for Dawkins is, he knows the game will have a playoff-type feel. The 10-4 Eagles lead the NFC East by one game, and the 8-6 Broncos can clinch a playoff berth with two wins to finish the season.
“It’s going to be an electric atmosphere, I know that,” Dawkins said. “It’s going to be very hyped. But once the whistle is blown and the first kickoff after that and the first hit, it’s football. Me and my teammates have to dial it in.”