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Brian Dawkins, heart of Broncos' defense, announces retirement on Twitter

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A short time ago, Broncos' safety Brian Dawkins announced his retirement in the new-fangled way -- via his Twitter account.

No, it's not a surprise, particularly given his recent injury history and reports about Denver's search for another secondary vet; more on that below. But it's still a shot to the solar plexus of the sort Dawkins was so brilliant at applying during his prime, and even afterward.

Here's Dawkins's tweet:

And here's the full text of his remarks:

The Lord has blessed me to play in the NFL for 16 years. I would like to thank the Eagles & the Broncos 4 believing In me. I would like 2 thank all my teammates & Coaches that I have been blessed 2 go to battle with. Along with u, the fans 4 helping make my career 1 that i have enjoyed tremendously. In other words. I am announcing my retirement from the NFL. #BBTB

That hashtag translates to "Blessed By The Best" -- a reference to Dawkins's faith, which he's been no more shy about expressing than ex-Bronco Tim Tebow. But just because he's a strong Christian doesn't mean he was willing to let meek opposing receivers inherit touchdowns. He'll go down in NFL history as one of the hardest hitters at any position. And the enthusiasm and exuberance with which he practiced his craft was contagious, as his ability to inspire teammates duly testifies.

Unfortunately, though, he was as susceptible to the ravages of time as any of us. When he came to the Broncos from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009, questions about him losing a step were already circulating -- and while he silenced most critics during his first couple of years in blue and orange, the nicks began to accumulate. As noted by the Denver Post, he was either on the shelf or severely diminished in his ability to make an impact during the final three games of the last regular season, not to mention the playoffs.

Then, last week, word surfaced that the Broncos had made a couple of offers to the Eagles for cornerback Asante Samuel. The deal seems unlikely to happen at this point, but it suggested to some observers that Dawkins's days with the team might be drawing to a close. Even though he and Samuel played different positions, it seemed unlikely that the Broncos would add another expensive old-timer (by pro-football standards) to a secondary that already includes Champ Bailey, who is obviously sticking around.

Of course, Bailey and Dawkins have more in common than their Broncos paychecks. They're both guaranteed Hall of Famers, probably of the first-ballot variety. It would have been great for Dawkins to be part of what Denver boosters hope will be a renaissance under new QB Peyton Manning. But he's leaving on his own terms with nothing left to prove.

When it comes to BD, Broncos fans have been blessed by the best, too.

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More from our Sports archive: "Photos: Peyton Manning makes John Elway look normal size."

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