ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- After 16 NFL seasons, Brian Dawkins is saying goodbye to the game he loves.
The 38-year-old announced his retirement via Twitter on Monday.
"The Lord has blessed me to play in the NFL for 16 years,” he wrote. “I would like to thank the Eagles and the Broncos for believing in me. I would like to thank all my teammates and coaches that I have been blessed to go to battle with.
“Along with you, the fans, for helping make my career one that I have enjoyed tremendously,” he continued. “In other words, I am announcing my retirement from the NFL.”
Early in the offseason, Dawkins told DenverBroncos.com that he would take some time away from the game, let his emotions settle down and ponder the decision.
“Like I always do, where I am in my career, obviously I’ll get down and get in some prayer, get away from the game a little bit and allow the Lord to talk to me and speak to me on what it is He would have me to do next,” he said.
In the end, Dawkins determined it was the right time to retire.
His 16 seasons playing safety in the league tied Paul Krause and Eugene Robinson for the most in NFL history. In nine of those seasons -- including his final campaign in 2011 -- Dawkins was selected to the Pro Bowl. That ties with John Lynch for the second-most by a safety in league history.
"Congrats on a successful 16-year career," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to Dawkins on Twitter. "Great player. More importantly, great man in his community and locker room."
Dawkins spent three seasons with the Broncos, heading to the Pro Bowl in two of them. He accumulated 233 tackles, five sacks, three interceptions, 21 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
For his career, Dawkins has the most forced fumbles by a defensive back -- 36 -- since the statistic was tracked starting in 1994, he ranks third all-time among defensive backs with 26 career sacks, and has 1,527 career tackles.
He is one of just three players in league history with at least 35 career interceptions and 20 career sacks.
“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," Head Coach John Fox said in a statement. "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.
"His contributions go far beyond the wins, interceptions, sacks and Pro Bowls he accumulated during his career. Brian is the definition of class and is what you want in a leader. I know our players, coaches, fans and so many within the National Football League feel the same way.
"I competed against Brian for many years with the Giants and coached him once in the Pro Bowl, but to be around him every day for a season was truly special. I’m not sure there was a more respected guy in our building than Brian. He knows defense, he knows football and he knows what it takes to win. I’ve got the utmost admiration for him as both a player and person.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to coach Brian. Although I will miss the positive impact he had on our team, I congratulate Brian on a tremendous career and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”
Dawkins, voted to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2000s, averaged nearly 100 tackles per season in his accomplished career.
The veteran safety has 129 combined wins, tied with Lynch for the fourth-most in NFL history by a defensive back, which is out of his 242 combined regular season and postseason games played, tying him for third in league history among defensive backs.
“Thank you, Brian Dawkins, for being a great Bronco and showing such an incredible commitment to your team and community,” Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said via Twitter. “Congratulations on a Hall of Fame career, Dawk!”
Dawkins will be eligible for the induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame five years after his retirement -- the class of 2017.
Click here for a photo gallery of Dawkins' career with the Broncos.