Blessed by the Best: My Journey to Canton and Beyond by Brian Dawkins, Michael Bradley (Contributor)
Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1996, Dawkins fought to elevate not only his own game but that of his entire team. He sweat, bled, and dominated through sixteen season in the NFL all the way into the Hall of Fame, but not for a moment did he believe his strength alone brought him that glory. Every step of the way the Lord had his back. From coaches that wanted to break him to defeats and bitter lessons in humility, his career is a testament to his faith and an homage to the countless people that helped him along the way.
In the wake of his success, Dawkins comes forward to describe his journey to become one the best safeties in the NFL. Physical training wouldn’t cut it. Blessed by the Best follows Dawkins trials to train his mind and faith along with his skill. As a nervous kid from Jacksonville, he never dreamed of one day standing in front of a crowd to accept that golden jacket. But one way or another, he made it. Dawkins tells his story straight, unafraid of exposing his own weaknesses; his over competitive spirit that takes losses to hard, the tunnel vision that estranged him from his kids, and the self-doubt that plagued much of his early years. Triumphs, pitfalls, love, and struggles Dawkins shares them all, not for himself, but in gratitude of those who have helped him along the way.
“I had been blessed by the best. First, that meant the Lord, who has blessed me with so much. It also meant all those people and things around me that I believe were the best for me. Maybe they weren’t the best for somebody else. Your best may not be my best. That’s fine. Everything that has happened to me has been to bring out the best in me. Even the toughest, hardest times in my life were the best things for me. If I hadn’t gone through them, maybe I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
“This is not a football book. It has football in it, but this is a life tool,” Dawkins told Heavy. “These are things that I have gone through in my life, that others have taught me.”
Guest Review by Sal
In ‘Blessed By the Best,’ Brian Dawkins delves into some tough subjects and offers insights from his life that are both refreshing and reassuring.
Dawkins faith is a huge motivator in his life. Raised Catholic, he never saw much interest in going to church until he was brought to a Christian church by his high school girlfriend, Connie. Dawkins was fundamentally changed by this experience and his reinvigorated faith would follow him throughout the rest of his life–as would Connie, whom he later married.
Later going on to play for both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Denver Broncos, Dawkins has always credited his faith in God as a big portion of who he is and how he got to where he is now. After playing football in high school, college and then sixteen seasons with the NFL, Dawkins retired, ready to appreciate new opportunities such as public speaking and television experiences.
When he found out that he was going to be inducted into the NFL hall of fame, it was important to Dawkins that his wife, Connie be there with him and wear a gold wrap as a form of her own hall of fame jacket. Not only had Connie been there with him throughout his entire career, but she had also given him three beautiful children and Dawkins relates that retiring gave him a new perspective on all that she does to support their household.
Speaking on subjects like mental health, racism that he has experienced, and difficulties in his career, ‘Blessed By the Best,’ is filled with insights that could only come from someone who has lived these experiences. Dawkins tackles these issues with a level head, and clearly isn’t afraid to talk about them.
A great inspiration not only on the football field, Dawkins’ memoir is one you should definitely check out for yourself!
About Brian Dawkins
Brian Dawkins entered the NFL in the second round of the 1996 draft and has since achieved 1,131 tackles, 37 achieved passes, 26 recorded sacks and 19 fumble recoveries, which has earned him a place in the NFL Hall of Fame. Out of his 16 career seasons, Dawkins spent 13 with the Eagles before signing as an unrestricted free agent with the Denver Broncos in 2008. Despite the team change, Dawkins still holds several team records for the Eagles, and as of 2012 his jersey number 20 has become one of only nine to be retired in the history of the franchise.
About Michael Bradley
Michael Bradley is a writer, broadcaster and professor who lives in suburban Philadelphia. He has written for numerous national publications, and he has authored 32 books, including Big Games: College Football’s Greatest Rivalries. Bradley has appeared on TV and radio networks across the country, including ESPN and NFL Network. He is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Communication at Villanova University.
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“This book is without a doubt the most powerful and poignant autobiography I’ve ever read by a retired professional athlete – ever. And, of course, it would be. In my nearly three decades of covering the NFL for ESPN, I have never encountered anyone like Brian Dawkins. After reading this highly personal, truly inspirational autobiography, now I know why. If you are a parent, a teacher, a coach, a leader in any way in your profession or life, you can learn so much from Brian and this book. His message cuts through all the clutter of our age. His life is a timely reminder that we can do good, for ourselves, our families, our community and our country. Brian is a living embodiment of that. This book is testimony to that achievement – and it can be yours, too.” –Sal Paolantonio, National Correspondent, ESPN
“Blessed by the Best” is a journey into the life of someone who inspired me to never settle for being mediocre. Brian Dawkins’ aim in life has always been to be better than those around him physically, mentally and spiritually. Brian was not only an incredible football player but an awesome friend, and his faith and drive are electric and contagious. “Blessed by the Best” is a must read and will surely motivate you in all areas of your life.”-Brian Westbrook, two-time Pro Bowl halfback with the Eagles and San Francisco, 2002-10
“Just as he played, his book is honest and passionate. He reveals his struggles and accomplishments from his point of view. My favorite player of all time in any sport. Went to Canton to see him inducted. It was an incredible trip. Wishing him many more blessings.”- Mommashark, Amazon
“Amazing Book! This book is definitely worth reading. As a person struggling or anyone that wants advice to help guide you to overcome and become stronger in different aspects of your life, I would suggest this.”-Flea, Amazon