Brian Dawkins gets that. Why else would he exert so much energy to come up with such an elaborate routine before every game? Sure, it looks like he’s doing it for his teammates to help get them fired up before the game, but really why does a pro athlete need someone else to motivate them? With all the money and competition riding on every play, the last thing a football player (or any other athlete for that matter) needs is some guy dancing the hootchie-coo in order to make other play harder.
I mean really.
Nope, Dawkins does all that stuff for you. He wants you to react and to be entertained. His pro wrestling-like entrance is just his way, not unlike Peyton Manning acting all goofy in a TV commercial, Derek Jeter serial dating, or Tiger Woods doing whatever it is he does.
It’s all part of the show.
But don’t write it off as insignificant. Oh no sir! Ballplayers hate the notion that they might be asked to “dance,” but when the music starts up and the lights start flashing, it takes Barry Sanders-like focus to maintain that austere façade.
Everyone has an act in sports. In fact, even Barry Sanders had an act. As they say, sometimes no style is considered to be a style. Hell, even they digitalized pixels on video games come with personalities programmed into the code. Better yet, the computer geeks set it up so even the folks playing the game at home can design any type of player they wish.
That’s kind of the way it works in pro sports, too. Do you think Terrell Owens was an obnoxious, delusional malcontent from day one? Or was Dennis Rodman such a quirky dude when he joined the Pistons with Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, and Rick Mahorn in the mid-1980s?
Answer: No. Those guys would have gotten their rears kicked if they tried it.
Just like any of their other skills, the persona is something that needs to be honed. However, it has to come in conjunction with some bona fide playing skills. For instance, no one has a problem when Brian Dawkins does a somersault into a handstand during the pregame introductions in his first game back in Philadelphia as a member of the Denver Broncos. After all, Dawkins didn’t just show up doing that whole X-Men bit. It took a lot of work both on and off the field.
Meanwhile, Freddie Mitchell was a player whose skills skewed the wrong way. The former wide receiver and first-round bust had the song and dance down, but had no idea of which key it was supposed to be sung.
In other words, Mitchell wasn’t good enough to strut the way he did.
Of course there is a slippery slope one treads, too, and Dawkins very well might be in that territory at this point of his career. Before Sunday’s home finale the talk was more about the way Dawkins might enter the ball field as opposed to how well he would perform on it. Sure, everyone wanted to see Dawkins dance, but no one really paid much attention to the way he covered receivers or made tackles.
All anyone wanted to see was the show and to hear about how Dawkins was up in the tunnel in his old ballpark screaming "Hallelujah!" and various other sweet nothings meant to get everyone all ornery and loud.And you can’t have one without the other.