Best. Breakfast. Ever.
We all turned excitedly, but because no one else had approached him we decided--against my wishes--not to bother him for an autograph.
Going out to Sunday-morning breakfast was always one of my family's favorite activities to do together. We would wake up an hour early, get ready, and go out to enjoy pancakes or eggs or whatever else we wanted. None of those times, however, compared with the experience we had one seemingly normal Sunday at IHOP.
When we got to the restaurant, we immediately noticed that everyone was a little bit more excited, a little more jittery than usual. At first, I simply assumed that they were excited about the Philadelphia Eagles football game later that day, and went back to enjoying my breakfast. My brother and I were having a conversation, and I had mentioned that I was pumped to see the Eagles play later, to which he responded that this week was our bye week, and so we weren't playing.
And then it happened. The sentence was not even out of his mouth when my eyes fell on one of my childhood idols, someone who had only ever lived in the television and in my dreams, but never in real life: Brian Dawkins, one of the best safeties in NFL history and my favorite Eagles player, was sitting two tables away, eating breakfast. Because the team didn't have a game that day, he was enjoying a rare day off and spending time with his family.
Understandably, I had a little bit of a panic attack and, upon finally calming down, told my family who was there. We all turned excitedly, but because no one else had approached him we decided--against my wishes--not to bother him for an autograph.
The Dawkins family finished their meal before we did, and I already had the plan set in my head that when he walked by my table, I would try to ask for his signature. Instead, something even better happened. Brian stood up and proceeded to gain the attention of the entire restaurant. He told us how happy he was that the people in the restaurant did not bother him at all during his very limited time with his family and that he wished all fans were like us.
As a sign of his gratitude, he paid for every table's meals and even left a giant tip for the wait staff to split. I had always known that Dawkins was a tremendously religious and charitable man, but this was something that I had never expected. To have the sort of generosity to pay for an entire restaurant's worth of meals, simply because they didn't talk to you, is a phenomenal tribute to the sort of person that Brian Dawkins is. I can only hope that other people who are supposed to be role models can take a page out of his book and learn something from him.