Sean Dawkins, a nine-year NFL veteran and member of the 1998 New Orleans Saints, died last week. He was 52.
Dawkins played in 140 games in his NFL career, 109 starts, and racked up 445 receptions for 6,291 yards and 25 touchdowns for four teams. In his lone season with the Saints, Dawkins led the team in receiving yards with 53 receptions for 823 yards and one touchdown.
“He was just there to do his job, be a good teammate, but, his sense of humor and when he laughed and he smiled and those green eyes of his and that big smile of his, he’d light up the whole room." Former Saints Quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver
Former Saints quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver, Dawkins' teammate on the 1998 team, complimented the skill set of the 6'4 215 lbs. wide receiver.
"Sean was a fantastic receiver, a big target that could also take the top off the coverage." Tolliver said Tuesday.
Tolliver said Dawkins was a "dependable" target down the field.
"He would fight for you. You put the ball up in his area, he's going up to get it. He would battle."
Tolliver said Dawkins' work off the field was just as impressive. Tolliver said Dawkins was an intelligent player who understood adjusting his route to the coverage and did not make mistakes on hot routes as well as excelling in other mental aspects to the game.
"He was a hard worker and put everything he had into his craft," Tolliver said.
Tolliver called Dawkins a "team guy through and through."
"There was never anything selfish about Sean," Tolliver said. "It was an honor to share the field with him."
Tolliver stressed the person behind the player was equally tremendous.
"More importantly, he was a beautiful human being and will be sorely missed by all who knew him," Tolliver said.
Tolliver characterized him as very professional and said he was well respected among his teammates.
"He was just there to do his job, be a good teammate, but, his sense of humor and when he laughed and he smiled and those green eyes of his and that big smile of his, he'd light up the whole room," Tolliver said.
Dawkins started off his Saints career with a boom, with his first reception coming in his first game on a 64-yard touchdown thrown by quarterback Danny Wuerffel. Dawkins would finish that game with five receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown in the 19-14 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 13, 1998 in the then-Louisiana Superdome which gave the Saints their first 2-0 start since 1993.
The Saints would continue the momentum into the next matchup with the Indianapolis Colts giving the team a 3-0 record. The rest of the season however would be a different story as the Saints would go 3-10 the rest of the way to finish with a 6-10 record. Four Saints would record starts at quarterback in the 1998 season in what Tolliver called a "transitional" year.
Dawkins spent five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, the team that drafted him 16th overall in the 1993 NFL Draft. Dawkins was with the team for the 1995 season where the team reached the AFC Championship. On Jan. 14, 1996, Dawkins would record 96 receiving yards in a 20-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that came down to the final play Colts wide receiver Aaron Bailey was unable to bring in a 29-yard pass that would have sent them to the Super Bowl.
Colts owner Jim Irsay shared his sympathies about the loss of Dawkins on social media.
During his NFL career, Dawkins also played for the Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Dawkins had a prolific collegiate career at the University of California. He is the Bears all-time leader in career receptions with 31 touchdowns. In his senior season in 1992, Dawkins led the country with 14 receiving touchdowns, still the single season school record, on his way to being named a consensus All American. Dawkins was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
Dawkins was born in Red Bank, N.J., but was raised in Cupertino, Calif.,where he played high school football for Homestead High School.
Dawkins is survived by his wife Sachicko and his children, Luke, Cameron and Ella.
"Sean was the center of our universe," Sachiko told the University of California Bears Athletics Department. "He was an incredible father and husband."
Dawkins died after suffering cardiac arrest Tuesday, Aug. 8 according to the Cal Bears athletic department.