Ahead of his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Brian Dawkins opened up about his battle with depression, thoughts of suicide, and how his family, namely wife Connie Dawkins, saved his life.
By Paul Domowitch
Brian Dawkins doesn’t know where he would be today without his wife. Well, actually, that’s not quite true. He does know.
He’d be dead.
He’d be in a bronze box in a cemetery somewhere instead of standing next to a bronze bust of himself Saturday night in Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio, making his acceptance speech for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Were it not for Connie Dawkins, there never would have been nine Pro Bowl invitations.
Were it not for her, there never would have been five first-team all-pro selections and he never would have been the straw that stirred the drink for all of those great Jim Johnson defenses.
“That’s the love of my life, man. To be the man I am today, a lot of that has to do with her and the things she wasn’t going to tolerate. I had to change parts of who I was in order to be with her.” — Brian Dawkins on his wife, Connie
And he never would have become the only defensive player in NFL history to record 25 or more interceptions, sacks, and forced fumbles.
“There was a lot of pressure on him after he was drafted by the Eagles,” Connie Dawkins said in a recent interview. “Going to a new city. Wanting to be the best. The expectations the team had for him. The pressures of a new family — little Brian had just been born back then. I was sick with an infection.
“The pressures of suddenly having all of this money. The outside intervention with other family members. There just was a lot on him.
“He was still growing into a man at the time. Brian always was quiet and introverted. But when you have everybody pulling on you and you don’t say anything back, they’re going to keep on and keep on — me included — until you blow up.”
The weight of that pressure took a toll on Dawkins. A very heavy, nearly fatal one.
He struggled with depression. He had debilitating migraines. He was drinking too much. The thermostat on his temper had stopped working.
Connie still remembers the day her husband got so angry that he ran full-speed into a door, ramming it with his head.
“I was very scared for him because I had never seen that side of him,’’ Connie said. “That’s when I said, ‘OK, we need to do something.’”
“That’s when I called Emmitt [Thomas, the Eagles’ defensive coordinator] and said, ‘You need to come get him. You need to talk to him. We have to do something.’ Because I knew he was just pushed to the limit and didn’t know what to do.”
Dawkins said he came “very, very, very, very” close to ending his life back then. “I remember thinking of different ways to do it,” he said. “I thought about ways to do it where Connie and the kids could still get the money” from the Eagles and his life insurance policy.
“That was real stuff in my life at that time,” he said.
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