Jenkins cheers on childhood idol Dawkins ahead of Hall of Fame induction

Ed Benkin
August 02, 2018 - 3:56 pm
From left: The Pro Football Hall of Fame s Class of 2018 including Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, and Ray Lewis during media availability during the NFL Honors show at Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium at the University of Minnesota.

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Malcolm Jenkins grew up watching Brian Dawkins, and he's still amazed how the former Eagles safety was able to maintain his intensity after displaying his famous pregame enthusiasm while running out of the tunnel.

"I'd be gassed by the first quarter," joked Jenkins. "You have a respect for the amount of passion and enthusiasm that he brought to the game because even if you tried, it's really hard to replicate that.  It's not only the pageantry of the pregame stuff but how he carried that throughout the game as well."

Passion is what defined Brian Dawkins. On Saturday, that passion will be on display in Canton, Ohio, where Dawkins will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It will no doubt, like everything else with Dawkins, be an emotional moment as he relives his fondest memories from his playing days.  

Jenkins has had the chance to get to know Dawkins after watching the former Eagle during his early days as a football player.

"He's one of those legends," Jenkins said. "When you see him on the field, you try to as a young kid emulate his intensity and the way he comes out of the tunnel and the way he talks. Now, with my own career and trying to finish my own legacy, to be able to communicate with a legend like that and just hear how he sees the game, and have me critique what I'm doing on the field, has been great for me and my career and how I approach the game."

Dawkins made headlines with a courageous admission this week leading up to his Hall of Fame induction. He admitted he battled depression early in his career and also talked about having suicidal thoughts.  For Jenkins, it was an admission that many athletes can relate to during their careers. 

"It brings a lot of things home," said Jenkins. "A lot of guys, including myself, deal with some kind of anxiety at some point in time or depression. To know that guys like him who we all view as strong and invincible can share those weaknesses, it lets everybody else know that it's normal and something you should seek help for."
 
Saturday will be all about celebrating Dawkins' days on the football field. He spent 13 of his 16 seasons with the Eagles and became one of the most beloved athletes in Philadelphia. Dawkins will likely bring the same passion to his speech on Saturday as he did on the football field.

"He could be talking about anything," Jenkins said. "He could be talking about the lunch menu and he's still going to have the same passion and intensity. That's just who he is. It's his lifestyle, and that's what makes him special."