Former NFL, California player Sean Dawkins dies at 52

Written by on August 13, 2023

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The sports world is mourning the loss of Sean Dawkins, a former NFL wide receiver and University of California Golden Bears football hall of famer who died last week at the age of 52.

Dawkins, a collegiate All-American drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the 1993 draft, died of cardiac arrest on Tuesday, the university’s athletics department announced. He played professional football for nine years before retiring in 2001.

“Rest in peace, Sean Dawkins. I am shocked and saddened,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “My prayers and condolences to Sean’s family.”

Wide receiver Sean Dawkins of the Indianapolis Colts lays on the field before a game against the Buffalo Bills at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Credit: Todd Warshaw /Allsport)

In his decorated career at Cal from 1990 to 1992, Dawkins holds the school’s single season and career records for most touchdown receptions. The Golden Bears won a Copper Bowl championship in 1990 and the Citrus Bowl the year after.

Dawkins was voted a consensus first-team All American, honored first-team All-Pac-10 honors and named as the team’s most valuable player as a senior, per Cal Football. He was later inducted in to the school’s Hall of Fame in 2005.

“Sean’s physical gifts were apparent as soon as he stepped onto campus, but his character, confidence and penchant to smile even during the most stressful moments were what made him a fantastic teammate,” former teammate and fellow hall of famer Mike Pawlawski said in a statement.

“When I looked into the huddle and saw Sean’s big smile and calm demeanor, it gave myself and the rest of the team confidence. Sean was a huge factor in our success as a team, a true Cal man and a great Golden Bear. My condolences to his family,” said Pawlawski, who now works as a sports broadcaster for Cal athletics.

Jason Kidd, an NBA legend and current Dallas Mavericks head coach who was classmates with Dawkins, wrote on social media: “Heartbroken over the tragic loss of Sean Dawkins, a true legend of the @Cal Bear community. His remarkable talent brought joy to fans and inspired many. Our deepest condolences to his loved ones during this difficult time. Rest in peace, Sean.”

In 1993, Dawkins was selected 16th overall by the Colts, where he would play for five seasons. He then played for the New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars until 2001.

“Another one of my teammates, Sean Dawkins has passed away at age 52,” Derwin Gray, who played alongside Dawkins in Indianapolis, said on social media. “Sean and I were in the Colts 1993 Draft Class. He was one of the first big WR in the NFL at 6’5, 220. He was elegant, such a marvelous football player. Tough day.”

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