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Posted at 10:55 AM ET, 04/24/2012

Safety Brian Dawkins to retire after 16 seasons — with his body still intact

“Brian Dawkins re-invented the safety position.” — Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie (Jack Dempsey - AP)
In a time in which many top NFL stars desperately cling to their careers on the field, ignoring the physical repercussions for their life after football, Brian Dawkins is bucking the trend.

The veteran safety and longtime Philadelphia Eagle will retire after 16 productive years in the league — and before the the game he loves can inflict any further punishment on his body.

Dawkins called Denver Broncos coach John Fox on Monday morning to inform him of his decision, which comes on the heels of a season shortened by a serious neck injury he suffered late in the year.

“It’s probably going to sound crazy, but you know the fact that I could play another year gave me a lot of peace to say that this is it,” he said.

A ferocious tackler and play-maker in the secondary, Dawkins accumulated 37 interceptions, 26 sacks and 28 forced fumbles. His intensity earned him the nickname “Wolverine.”

Dawkins announced his retirement on Twitter.

The Lord has blessed me to play in the NFL for 16 years. I would like to thank the Eagles & the Broncos 4 believing in me. I would like 2 thank all my teammates & Coaches that I have been blessed 2 go to battle with. Along with u, the fans 4 helping make my career 1 that i have enjoyed tremendously. In other words. I am announcing my retirement from the NFL. #BBTB

The 38-year-old believes he could play another season after recovering from the neck injury and the offseason additions of Peyton Manning and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio forced him to seriously consider a return. But ultimately, he felt the time was right to walk away.

The Eagles will honor Dawkins at their Sept. 30 game against the Giants. (George Widman - AP)
“It’s always thought to take that final step,” Broncos Vice-President John Elway said. “He’ll be missed. He did so many tremendous things for the Broncos, not only on the field, but his leadership off the field was something that we’ll always be grateful for.”

Dawkins will return to Philadelphia — where he starred for 13 years — to meet with the media on Saturday. The Eagles will honor Dawkins at their Sept. 30 game against the New York Giants.

“On the field, in many ways, Brian re-invented the safety position,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. “He had the speed and athleticism to line up against the game’s best receivers, and was equally effective in the run game. His love for the game was infectious and he poured his entire heart and soul into everything he was doing from the moment he entered the stadium until he left.

“Everyone who ever watching Brian play saw that and it was impossible not to love that about him.”

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By  |  10:55 AM ET, 04/24/2012

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