Cleaning out his locker Sunday, Brian Dawkins stopped to talk about what he described as “a roller coaster ride” of a season.
“In the middle of that roller coaster ride, there was an up that nobody saw coming from where we started,” Dawkins said. “It was some joy, it was some believing in teammates, it was a character-builder, it was young players growing up, and it did a lot for this team to help us get into the playoffs.”
Dawkins doesn’t buy that the team “backed in” to the postseason.
“No,” he said. “We earned that spot.”
But once the team got there, Dawkins wasn’t able to join his teammates on the field.
After suffering a neck injury against the Chicago Bears, Dawkins missed four of the team’s remaining five games, exiting the one game he played in the first quarter after aggravating the injury.
Dawkins was listed as doubtful for the team’s Divisional round matchup with the New England Patriots, and when Saturday came, he couldn’t suit up.
“It was very disappointing,” he said. “Obviously I want to listen to what the doctors were telling me, and this is what they were telling me, that it’s not ready to go. I would’ve done nobody any good to be on the field and get hurt again and be right back off. Then we also lose a spot for a guy who could actually play that week. It’s very, very frustrating not to be on the football field to help my guys out on the field.
“Lord willing, if we would’ve won this past week, it would’ve taken a move from on high to keep me off the field this coming week if we had passed this last test.”
But Dawkins is left to wonder what if. He won’t let that emotion affect his decision-making as he gets a little time away from the game this offseason.
As he does every year, he’ll work to determine his future plans through prayer.
“Like I always do, where I am in my career, obviously I’ll get down and get in some prayer, get away from the game a little bit and allow the Lord to talk to me and speak to me on what it is He would have me to do next,” he said. “If I decide that I’m listening and He tells me that another year is available for me and the Broncos want me back, then that will be the case.”
Head Coach John Fox said Monday that he told Dawkins, like every other player, to “take a nice, long break.”
“I told them we would do whatever it takes to win the Big Boy Championship and not just the AFC West Championship,” Fox said.
Dawkins said he’s excited about the fight the Broncos showed in 2011.
As for where the team goes from here, he said “it’s up to us.”
He stressed the importance of training in the offseason, and holding firm in the belief in what the Broncos are building in Denver.
“We just laid the foundation, to me, of what we can be as a football team,” he said. “From here, we have to take it and be better next year.”
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