Summer 2024

Brian Dawkins overcame depression, suicidal thoughts to become Hall of Famer

Nine-time Pro Bowler Brian Dawkins is part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018, which will be inducted Saturday night in Canton, Ohio. It’s the crowning moment for a football career that could have ended much differently.

Dawkins, who played safety for 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before his final three with the Denver Broncos, recently opened up to the Philadelphia Inquirer about his battle with depression, anger and suicidal thoughts:

Dawkins said he came “very, very, very, very” close to ending his life back then. “I remember thinking of different ways to do it,” he said. “I thought about ways to do it where Connie and the kids could still get the money” from the Eagles and his life insurance policy.

But he got professional help at the urging of his wife, Connie, and Emmitt Thomas, the Eagles’ defensive coordinator at the time.

“It wasn’t an easy thing to do,” Dawkins conceded. “That’s the macho world we live in as men. Especially in the black community. Men don’t tell people they have problems. You suck it up, and you deal with it.

“But it was just something that, at that time, I couldn’t handle on my own. If Connie and Emmitt hadn’t helped convince me to go talk to somebody, then let my faith kick into overdrive, who knows what would have happened.”

With counseling sessions and prescribed antidepressant medication, Dawkins was able to finally think clear again. “I was able to express myself to people differently, on a better level,” he told Denver’s 9News. “I was able to control my anger and I was able to hear my spiritual voice.

“That’s when my faith began to kick in and I was able to stop taking my medicine. Cold turkey, which you’re not supposed to do. But I stopped cold turkey and depended on my walk with Christ.’’

Dawkins will be introduced at the HOF ceremony by Troy Vincent, a teammate of Dawkins’ in the Eagles secondary from 1996-2003. Dawkins says Vincent became like a big brother, guiding the young, raw, hard-hitting safety both on and off the field.

The two attended once attended a CAUSE (Christian Athletes United for Spiritual Empowerment) conference with their wives that fired them up to be better men.

“In that conference, both Troy and I really decided to walk out our faith instead of just being a church-goer, or being somebody that goes to Bible study,’’ Dawkins told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We wanted to actually live our faith and have a relationship with God instead of just having a religion with him.

“We both decided to be better fathers, better friends. To hold one another accountable for those times when we might slip up or say things. And we took that same feeling into the locker room.”

That culture remains in the Eagles locker room. Many players on the reigning Super Bowl champs are outspoken about their faith, and they link that culture back to Dawkins’ days.

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