PHLADELPHIA - Eagles fans saved some of their loudest cheers Sunday night for a former player.
Safety Brian Dawkins, who spent 13 of his 16 NFL seasons providing big hits and terrific leadership for the Eagles, had his No. 20 jersey retired before the Eagles' game against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field.
"First of all, Hallelujah!" Dawkins yelled during a pregame ceremony at the Linc's Headhouse Plaza. "It is an absolute honor. I've said a number of times that I didn't grow up thinking I was going to get my number retired somewhere. I just wanted to go out and do my best and if my best wasn't good enough, then I had to rely on another source of energy, my spiritual side, so that I could give you all some supernatural stuff.
"Thank you very much for this. This is a tremendous honor. I will always be an Eagle at heart."
Approximately 1,000 fans squeezed into the room and filled a stationary escalator to watch Dawkins receive the honor from Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie.
Dawkins, who retired earlier this year after playing three seasons in Denver, became the eighth Eagles' player to have his number retired, joining running back Steve Van Buren (15), defensive back Tom Brookshier (40), tight end Pete Retzlaff (44), center/linebacker Chuck Bednarik (60), lineman Al Wistert (70), defensive end Reggie White (92) and defensive tackle Jerome Brown (99).
The crowd, most of which was sporting Dawkins jerseys, showered him with chants of "B-Dawk, B-Dawk when Lurie introduced him. Lurie also presented him with a painting afterward.
"A Brian Dawkins doesn't come along every day," Lurie said. "Fearless as a player, fearless as a leader, priceless as a husband, father, co-worker and friend. He is one of the very best the Eagles ever hand and we are proud to prove it by retiring his number 20 and inducting him into our Hall of Fame.
"There was never any doubt that his name belonged right up there with them. Brian puts his heart and soul into everything he does. And it's a big heart and it's a big soul. Every one of us who saw him play, we remember he was the strong passionate heartbeat of our team. He symbolized everything Philadelphia stands for: the passion, the hard work, and the unstoppable spirit. He showed us all how this game ought to be played. When we look up there and in the stadium or the NovaCare Complex and see that number 20, it’s going to remind all of us every day to give it our all for each other and for all the fans."