In the second round of the 1996 draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Brian Dawkins, a safety from Clemson. He quickly found his way into the starting lineup as a rookie and never looked back upon his great career.
With the start of the Andy Reid regime in 1999, Jim Johnson was hired as the teams defensive coordinator. No one in the city knew much about Johnson, but that year he helped Dawkins evolve into a Pro Bowl player. The team wasn’t very good at 5-11, but improvements were noticeable. In 2000, Dawkins and his defense finished 4th in points allowed and 1oth in yards. The Eagles made the playoffs and won their first playoff game since 1996. In what seemed a yearly occurrence, the season ended in a disappointing loss, losing to the Giants 20-10.
Dawkins made the Pro Bowl for the second time in 2001. His bone-jarring hits quickly made him a fan favorite along with his leadership abilities. The defense finished 2nd in points allowed and the team went to their first of many NFC Championship games. Aeneas Williams had other ideas for the Eagles as his interception ended the Eagles’ season one game short of their goal. Weapon X, Dawkins’ alter ego, made his second straight Pro Bowl in 2002. In a game vs. the Houston Texans that year, he became the first player in NFL history to have a sack, forced fumble, interception and touchdown reception in a game. After a first round bye, Brian laid what many say is his greatest hit. With Mike Vick running towards the end zone, Dawkins flew out of nowhere and laid out Vick with a shoulder. The play was called back because of a penalty, but Vick had to come out for a play. The Falcons drive would eventually end with a missed field goal and the Eagles went on to win 20-6. No reason to discuss what happened against the Bucs the following week.