Dawkins was named to several All-Pro teams and the NFL's All-Decade team of the 2000s and he made nine Pro Bowls, including last season as an alternate. Dawkins finished his career with 17 fumble recoveries, 26 sacks, 37 interceptions, 42 forced fumbles and 98 pass breakups. His 42 forced fumbles are the most ever by a defensive back in the NFL.
"Brian Dawkins is one of the best to ever play the game, a future Hall of Famer who changed the way his position is played," Fox said. "In many ways, he helped my job as a coach with his great leadership and preparation. He brought so much to the table and was such an enormous asset to our football team."
As a member of the NFLPA executive committee, Dawkins pushed for new league rules that limited full contact during camp and also in the regular season. He credited those changes in the 10-year labor pact reached last summer with keeping him fresh at the beginning of what turned out to be his final season, which he played a year after laboring through sprains to both knees.
What he was really fighting for, he said, was the next generation of players who will one day walk away from the game in better shape than he could.
It was one last piece of his long legacy.
"I just hope that people will remember me as someone that went out and gave everything that he could every week," Dawkins said. "Not just the weekend or the day of the game, but every week ... and that my teammates could count on me to be there all of the time. Not some of the times, not most of the times."
One tweet in response to Dawkins' retirement announcement came from Elway himself, who wrote, "Congratulations on a Hall of Fame career, Dawk!!!"
He'll be eligible for enshrinement in 2017.
"If that's something that happens, that will be a blessing," Dawkins said. "I never entered into the NFL saying that, you know, I'm going to be a Hall of Famer. I know some guys do that; I just wasn't one of them. I mean, that wasn't my mindset. I did not enter the league saying I want to play 16 years. None of these things were in my mind."
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.