Former Raines High stand-out leaves his mark on the NFL. • From the March 2013 edition of Jacksonville Magazine
by Kerry Speckman
Considering his success in the NFL, it should come as no surprise that Brian Dawkins wanted to be a
professional athlete as a kid. It may come as a shock, however, that the 16-year veteran and nine-time Pro Bowler dreamed of a career in the NBA.
A graduate of Raines High School, the Jacksonville native spent most of his childhood on the basketball court (as a point guard and shooting guard). In fact, it wasn’t until he watched his father coaching a Pop Warner football team, and saw the interaction with the players, that he even considered participating in organized football.
Three decades later, Dawkins’ second-choice sport has catapulted him into super stardom, not only as a player (he’s widely considered one of the league’s all-time top safeties and a can’t-miss Hall of Famer), but now as an NFL studio analyst for ESPN.
Dawkins, 39, currently lives in Denver (where he ended his NFL career) with his wife Connie and four children. He also coaches his son’s football team. Jax Mag recently had the chance to interview Dawkins. Here’s some of what we learned…
• The Philadelphia Eagles retired Dawkins’ jersey in 2012, making him only the eighth player in the team’s history to receive such an honor.
• Dawkins met his wife Connie at Raines. They’ll be married 19 years in 2013.
• Besides family and friends, what Dawkins misses most about his hometown is Jenkins Barbecue.
• He’s a “huge” reggae fan and has been known to perform Bob Marley tunes, as well as Al Greene and Marvin Gaye, at karoake.
• Growing up, he couldn’t stand to watch football. He’d play with friends but didn’t start playing organized football until he was 13. In the early days, he played quarterback (not very well, he says) and running back.
• “Football has matured me to be the man that I am today,” Dawkins says. “To be a successful player, you have to know how to manage your time, get along with others, be conflict and resolution oriented, and work under pressure.”
• A “realistic” talent he wishes he had is the ability to play multiple musical instruments (he doesn’t play any now). The “unrealistic” talent he would want? The ability to heal, like Wolverine.