Dawkins surprised by Banner's departure
Brian Dawkins never thought he would see the day.
Not much caught the hard-hitting safety off guard on the football field over the course of his 16-year NFL career, but for Joe Banner to be out as team president with Jeffrey Lurie still owning the team? Well, the potential future Hall of Famer didn’t see that coming.
“It was surprising, it really was,” Dawkins said Monday at the Michael Barkann and Friends Golf Classic in Cherry Hill, N.J. “I never thought I would see the day the Eagles organization under Mr. Lurie would be without Joe, so that surprised me big time to see that he stepped down.”
Banner, always the businessman, was rarely seen in the locker room chumming it up with players during his tenure. The effect, Dawkins admitted, was that he and his teammates did not receive the president very well.
“It’s not that you want your person doing your business being the most well-liked guy — you can have a little grit to you,” he said. “But to me, sometimes he took things a little too far in that department, in that area, and it rubbed a lot of guys the wrong way.”
But Banner knew the role he played — he went as far as calling himself a “lightning rod” — and his bad-cop approach didn’t affect the team’s play on the field, at least when Dawkins was a Bird.
“When we hit the field we depended too much on one another,” he said. “You know that your teammate is counting on you too much to allow the things of business to affect you on the football field.
“So as raw a feeling as you may have as far as that is concerned, you know that once you touch the football field, once you come on to practice, once you’re in the meeting rooms, that your focus needs to be a different direction. Because, like I said, for the third time now, that the guys in the locker room are counting on you, and they, we meant a lot to one another.”
Many have speculated that Banner’s departure means more power will go to Andy Reid. With an increase in responsibility following a disappointing 8-8 season, should the head coach be on the hot seat?
“Yes,” Dawkins said. “But at the same time I believe he is going to be able to get this team going in the right direction, because just look at his track record. Look at what he’s been able to do in this organization. Look at what he’s been able to do with the guys playing on this team, the system that he has in place, and the guys buy into it. When you buy into it, you trust one another. You have success.”
Dawkins foresees training camp returning to what it was when he was an Eagle. Reid has always been known for running tough camps, but the new CBA limits what coaches can ask their players to do.
“Can’t be as physical as we did it, but I can see him going back to that this year,” he said. “You know, having a little more grit to those training camps, making sure these guys are ready this year for the long haul — not just wavering throughout it, but to be able to withstand whatever comes their way in the East, and to be able to excel, especially in the later months as we always did.”
This will be the first time in 16 years that training camp will arrive and Dawkins won’t report to a team. But he’s not going to miss it.
“It’ll be different, but the thing — I don’t think people will actually believe me when I say it -- but I’m at peace with where I am,” Dawkins said. “I don’t have a desire to go out there and do that any more. That part of me — as much as I love the game, and I really want to be more of a teacher of the game now, the playing side of it — that time has passed for me.”