Brian Dawkins’ loyalty is just as intense as his play on the field. The hard hitting safety agreed to take a pay cut to play his 16th season in the league, and his third with the Denver Broncos.
Dawkins was supposed to make $6 million this season, but agreed to play for $2 million.
Where I am in my life as a person, this is no big deal to me,” Dawkins said. “It’s what I felt was right. The last 2 1/2 years, I had a horrible taste in my mouth. I really wanted to be part of this team, part of theDenver Broncos— how do I say this? — without any dark clouds over us. I could have decided to continue my career some other place, but that’s not what I wanted to do.” – Brian Dawkins to the Denver Post
In a day and age when most players play just for money, Dawkins is injecting tradition and humility into the sport again.
Many have questioned Dawkins’ ability to keep up with the younger guys. He turns 38 in October, but can still deliver some monster hits.
This brings us to the question of age in the NFL.
Looking at the oldest projected starters on defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers are at the top of the list with an average of 31 years old. The Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears are second and third, respectively, averaging 29 years old.
As we know, the Steelers ranked first in points allowed last season, and made it to the Super Bowl. They were ranked 1st in rushing defense and 12th in passing defense. Their winning formula comes down to drafting younger defensive players in the first round of the draft, letting them learn from the veterans, and not necessarily throwing them right into the mix until they’re ready. There’s nice mix of young guys and veterans to consistently make them one of the best defenses in the league.
Looking at the Broncos projected starters, the average age on defense is 27.9 years old. With two rookies and four guys 30 years or older, there’s a nice mix of experience on this Broncos defense.
One could argue that half the squad is capable of pulling off Pro Bowl like numbers.
With Brian Dawkins clearly wanting to be part of this Broncos team, it sets a good example to the younger players on the team – playing to win is a lot different than playing for money.
Defenses succeed when guys are focused on the team rather than on individual statistics (which lead to bigger contracts). There’s no question that the Steelers have this philosophy down pat, and with Dawkins’ return, the Broncos will too.