Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Phil Dawson: Kudos to the Cleveland Browns' Kicker

By Nate Powers

November 27, 2008

Phil Dawson is the full package when it comes to not just kickers, but professionals too. He has been an ultimate professional since arriving with the 1999 expansion Browns.

His on-the-field record makes him perhaps the greatest kicker in team history, and his approach makes anyone want to imitate him as a professional and a man.

Since becoming a pro in 1999, his field-goal percentage is 83.6 percent, which ranks him first on the Browns all time and fourth all-time in NFL history.

He made his 200th kick earlier this year (He now has 206), and he is the only player in Browns history to make a 50-yard field goal in three consecutive games.

He is the only player to score 100 points in four consecutive seasons, and with 96 points this year, he seems to be on his way to five. He is ranked third all-time in points on the team with 872.

With his field goal at the end of the Monday Night game at Buffalo, he recorded his 11th career game winner. Romeo Crennel didn't even flinch when he sent Dawson out to kick.

The low point in his career came two years ago, when he missed a 26-yard kick in a home game against the Jets, and boos echoed through the stadium.

What nobody knows is that he spent the entire night at the Cleveland Clinic, to be with his daughter who was being treated for a staph infection she didn't have.

This happened after his daughter stopped breathing at home and she was rushed to the hospital. His daughter was born that summer.

The missed field goal followed and so did the news that the staph infection was wrongly diagnosed, and her blood sample was misplaced. She returned home after three days and is as healthy as his other two children.

After the season, a rumor spread that the Browns were interested in Olindo Mare, even though Dawson was more productive in cold weather.

Believed to be on a short leash, Dawson delivered with one of his best seasons if not his best. He won a game in Baltimore and with the help of "the Dawson bar," and also setting a career high in points with 120 (second best in team history).

Who can forget kicking the 49-yard field goal against Buffalo, which also hit the Dawson bar. The kick might have been the most amazing play since the Browns' return in 1999.

As the years go on, Dawson gets better, and he gets more chances at longer field goals. In his first three years in the league he didn't try a field goal longer than 50 yards. Since 2002, he has tried 14 and has made 10.

Dawson was an undrafted free agent from Texas, where he made 9-of-15 from 50 yards or longer. Dawson's offseason lasts two weeks, and then he's back on the weights preparing for the next season.

When Dawson was signed in 1999, he almost went unnoticed since the Browns had signed so many players that year because of their return.

He credits his standard of work ethic off of his father, and his mentor, former Browns punter Chris Gardocki.

After 10 years Dawson has established himself as one of the best kickers in Browns history, if not the best.

Dawson has always shown respect for the great ones that came before him whether it be from the Browns, or the Longhorns, Even his high school where another Browns kicker, Matt Stover went to school.

The Browns kicker has never sold himself short, he leaves it all out on the field.

Browns fans should be happy with the kicker they have, because people like Phil Dawson don't come around too often.

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