Denver Broncos safety Brian Dawkins has been named the winner of the prestigious 43rd annual Byron "Whizzer" White Award, it was announced on Thursday night at the National Football League Players Association Gala at the Washington Hilton.
Dawkins received the award as the NFL player who best served his team, community and country in the spirit of Byron Raymond "Whizzer" White, who was a Supreme Court Justice, professional football player and humanitarian. The award is considered one of the most meaningful honors bestowed in the NFL on an annual basis.
"This is an absolute blessing," said Dawkins, whose wife, Connie, accepted the award on his behalf in Washington. "I want to thank everyone. It's a blessed, emotional time for me to receive this award because so many outstanding guys have come before me, and I know how big of an honor this is from the NFLPA."
Dawkins, who is in his first year with the Broncos after spending the last 13 seasons with the Eagles, established himself as one of the most philanthropic athletes in all of sports during his time in Philadelphia.
The safety served as the regional spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation while playing in Philadelphia, earning Father of the Year honors from the American Diabetes Association in 2008 for his efforts. He also works closely with the Burn Prevention Foundation, hosting an annual golf tournament to raise awareness and funds for its programs.
In addition, Dawkins teamed up with the Philadelphia Daily News to create an award given each week during the season to a local high school football player who best exemplified academics, character and sportsmanship with the winner receiving tickets to an Eagles game. On April 2, he held a luncheon for the student winners in Philadelphia, where he emphasized the importance of their accomplishments.
Dawkins was one of 12 finalists for the "Whizzer" White Award chosen by James Brown, host of CBS' The NFL Today, from a total of 32 individual team nominations. He was selected as the award's winner from a list of judges that included Robert L. Johnson (founder of BET and majority-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats) and Billy Hunter (former U.S. Attorney and current executive director of the National Basketball Players Association).
Former Broncos safety John Lynch (2006), defensive end Lyle Alzado (1977) and running back Floyd Little (1974) also have received the "Whizzer" White Award, which was first given in 1967.