Not even the allure of playing with new Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has swayed Brian Dawkins about whether to continue his illustrious 16-year NFL career.
“My decision will be based upon me making the right decision for me going forward — period,” the nine-time Pro Bowl safety told me and co-host Jim Miller on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Friday. “That’s a decision I’ll make at some point.”
Dawkins, 38, said the impact returning for another season will have upon his family is among his biggest considerations. The Broncos have kept in contact about possibly re-signing Dawkins, who is an unrestricted free agent.
“I’m still in my prayer time about this,” Dawkins said while attending the NFL Players Association’s annual meeting in Marco Island, Fla. “My son is in high school now. My daughters are getting older and I’ve been out of the house for so long as a professional player. To take care of my body, me and the training staff work a lot together so I’m always away. If it’s that time for me to shut it down and the Lord puts it in my heart, then it’s that time.”
Dawkins said his health was not a concern after being forced to miss playing time last season with a neck injury. Dawkins is no longer suffering a loss of strength and numbness in his fingers that was caused by the repeated pinching of a nerve.
“It needed time to recover. During the season, you don’t have time,” said Dawkins, who was forced to miss two games in 2011. “I’m recovered 100 percent now. I have all the strength back that I lost. I can play.”
Dawkins is one of the most popular players in Philadelphia Eagles history, having spent the first 13 years of his NFL career with that franchise. Dawkins signed with the Broncos as a free agent in 2009.
Manning is making a similar transition, having joined the Broncos earlier this week after spending the previous 14 seasons with Indianapolis.
“That’s one of the crazy things that happen once in a while in this league,” Dawkins said of Manning landing in Denver. “To have the ability to go after one of the greatest quarterbacks to play our game, that is something that does not happen all the time.”
The Manning acquisition led to Denver trading 2011 starting quarterback Tim Tebow to the New York Jets. More than teammates, Tebow and Dawkins were two of the spiritual leaders in Denver’s locker room.
Dawkins said he will always have fond memories of Tebow and shared a story that reflects their religious bond.
“In our Bible study sessions when my neck was pretty bad and I’m hurting, he, along with our chaplain and (Broncos director of player development) Jerry Butler, laid hands and prayed on me pretty good,” Dawkins said. “They brought snot and tears to my eyes and all that type of good stuff with prayer.
“He really is a guy who walks what he says he walks.”