Friday, July 12, 2019

Phil Dawson hasn't made 'any decisions' on retirement, reflects on 'incredible' bond with Browns fans

July 11, 2019 01:21 PM UPDATED 10 MINUTES AGO

Sports Business

The 2012 season, Phil Dawson's last with the Cleveland Browns, might have been the best of the kicker's career.

One of the most beloved players from the last 20 seasons of Browns football is a kicker.
That says quite a bit about the success, or lack thereof, from the Browns since they returned in 1999. It also says a lot about Phil Dawson.
"I thought I had an understanding of the bond when I left in 2013," Dawson said in a phone interview on Thursday, July 11. "That's only been proven more true since. During the playoff run with the Niners in 2013, the outpouring of support from Browns fans was just amazing. They just expressed how happy they were that I got to experience that. That was incredible."
Dawson played 14 seasons with the Browns. He left after the 2012 campaign, which was one of the best of his stellar career.
Dawson earned his only Pro Bowl selection that year, during which he made 29 of 31 field-goal attempts and all 29 of his extra-point tries. The two misses remain a career best.
But the Browns — stop us if you've heard this before — were going through a regime change at the time. The organization had a new CEO-general manager tandem in Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi, and the Browns, according to, never made a formal offer to a kicker who had recently turned 38 and had played under the franchise tag for the last two seasons.
"It was incredibly difficult to leave," Dawson said. "I didn't really have the luxury of time at that time to reflect and let it all in. I had to go find a job and had to dive in and fully commit to my next challenge, as I always have. In some ways, I didn't absorb that whole process. It was extremely difficult. But there were no hard feelings because the people making the decisions were new. It would've been a lot more difficult if it was people I had been with for a long time. These were people I really didn't know. In some ways, that helped, but it was difficult to leave."
In 2013, Dawson set career highs in points (140), field goals made (32) and extra points (44). He was perfect on PATs and missed only four field goals. The 49ers, with whom he had signed a one-year deal worth $2.35 million, were 12-4 and advanced to the NFC championship game.
Two years later, Dawson made an emotional return to Cleveland as a member of the 49ers. The Browns honored him with a video tribute in the first quarter, and the gesture was followed by a standing ovation.
"I don't have words to express how overwhelmed I was at the love," Dawson said Thursday. "The Browns organization doing the welcome-back video, that just doesn't happen for visiting players. The feedback, the back-and-forth through social media, continues to be incredible. I do some public events, and I did one with Firestone, a big corporate event, and there was a huge amount of Cleveland people there. It turned into a dang reunion."
Dawson left the 49ers after the 2016 season. He signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Arizona Cardinals.
The 2018 season was one of his most difficult. The 44-year-old was limited to 10 games by a hip injury, and his five field goals and 30 points were career lows.
Not exactly the ideal way to enter free agency.
Dawson's 21-season résumé, though, stacks up with almost any kicker in league history.
He's made 83.8% of his field-goal attempts, which ranks 22nd all-time, and his 1,847 points rank second among active kickers and 11th all-time. His 305 games played are second among active players and seventh in league history — two ahead of Jerry Rice and three better than Brett Favre.
So is this it for a player who ranks second to Lou Groza on the Browns' all-time scoring list?
"I haven't made any decisions yet," Dawson said. "Every year, honestly, for the past seven or eight years, I come home in the offseason and assess where I am and where my family is, and then we all sit down and make a decision. We're in the process of doing that again."
Dawson and his wife, Shannon, have two sons, Dru and Beau, and a 13-year-old daughter, Sophiann. ("Three teenagers. Never a dull moment," he said.)
Dru, who is entering his senior season, is the starting quarterback for Vandegrift High School in Austin, Texas. Beau played tight end as a freshman in 2018.
Watching his kids play is "an absolute blast," Dawson said.
Whether or not he will do so in 2019 as a current or retired kicker remains to be seen.
Dawson said there is "always some back-and-forth" between teams and his agent, Beachwood-based Neil Cornrich.
"One thing I learned from the NFL: You don't really know if someone is interested until they slide that piece of paper (with an offer)," he said. "Neil and I have a deal. He handles all of that, and when there are legs to it, we start talking about it from there. We have a really good working relationship and I really value his opinion."
Dawson is excited for the Browns and their many backers as the team enters a season with legitimate hopes to be a contender.
"The fans deserve a winner," he said.
And yes, he's heard from fans hoping he'll return to the team as a free agent.
"It kinda gives me a glimpse of what retirement would be like," Dawson said. "None of the people seem to realize that I used to miss kicks here and there. It's pretty awesome."
You can follow me on Twitter for sports information and analysis, and you can follow Dawson for responses to fans who are uncertain about what to do with his former No. 4 jersey.

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