PHILADELPHIA • Brian Dawkins sat in the locker room and wrestled with his emotions.
The veteran safety didn’t come out for pregame warm-ups with the rest of the Broncos. He said he knew he would be emotional returning to Philadelphia after playing 13 years with the Eagles, so he waited alone.
“I wanted to have everything I needed to have for my teammates for the game, and not warm-ups,” Dawkins said.
The first time Eagles fans got to cheer for him was when the Broncos’ defense was introduced before the game.
Dawkins came out last, and as the crowd stood and cheered, he did a forward and a backward somersault.
Dawkins didn’t get off to a great start. In the first quarter, an illegal contact penalty against Dawkins on third down kept the Eagles on the field. And Dawkins couldn’t make a tackle on a 39-yard screen pass to LeSean McCoy.
But he calmed down, making a few of his trademark big hits, and led the team with eight tackles.
The respect from the crowd and the Eagles players was apparent. After one tackle, cornerback Sheldon Brown pointed towards Dawkins on the sideline.
“He taught me how to play the game the right way,” Brown said. “When I pointed at him, it was to give him respect for what he showed me over the years.”
“We went to battle, we went to war for many, many years,” Dawkins said. “And we built something there.”