Legends Retire Hard: The Truth Of Brian Dawkins Must SurviveFootball, Trible To Your Bass — By M. Trible on October 2, 2012 at 2:00 am
After a final meeting on the field between players and coaches, camp broke. The players joked and laughed as they walked to the locker rooms.
Like kids who go to summer camps, the players were excited their time away from home was over. It was almost time to head back to Philadelphia. Time to head back to their homes and families.
The full-capacity crowd came down to the fence separating the bleachers and field. They yelled for the players to come over and sign an autograph.
Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook and other stars headed inside.
After the famous Eagles were gone, yelps for the backups arose. Second-string running back Correll Buckhalter walked by as the fans in green screamed for him to come sign.
At the team’s camp, they set up a tent for autographs. Each fan is given a raffle ticket upon entry. When the designated autograph session is starting, the team announces which set of numbers is allowed in the tent. The tent holds players of an assigned position.
It’s a good way for the team to get some fans a signature. Philadelphia’s camp produces large turnouts each day. There are simply too many fans for everyone to go home happy.
Since it was the last day of camp, the flocks of fans tried one last time to get their autographs.
With each player that passed, the pleas grew louder.
JUST ONE SIGNATURE MAN!
The players weren’t fazed. They, like most professional athletes, had been down that road before. Signing one autograph means signing more.
It means turning down people while satisfying a select few. After a big win, some may be less reluctant to sign – they’re happy and willing to spread the love.
But on the last day of camp? The weary players wanted to get the hell out of Bethlehem. Really, no one could blame them.
Still, it was disappointing.
The last player on the field came to the beginning of the fence line. There, he signed a shirt. Then, someone else’s hat. Next, another shirt.
Making an attempt to reach each fan, the player thanked whoever put something over the fence. He signed, thanked and moved on to the next.
He signed along that fence line for at least 90 minutes. He made sure the fans went home happy. He appreciated their support.
That player wasn’t some rookie looking to impress a rabid fan base. He wasn’t a no-name soaking in the moment. No.
It was none other than free safety Brian Dawkins. The man who overcame the odds of the Philadelphia athlete and was universally loved. If he isn’t the only one in that group, he’s damn close.
I was in the crowd that day along the fence line. When he came to me, I couldn’t believe it.