Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Phil Dawson to be inducted into the 2024 Class of Browns Legends


Former Cleveland Browns kicker Phil Dawson smashes a San Francisco 49ers styled guitar, October 15, 2023, at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

John Kuntz,

By Mary Kay Cabot,

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Phil Dawson’s Browns career began with former coach Chris Palmer warning him, “we’re going to start with you” and see how it goes, to Dawson being immortalized in team history as a member of the 2024 Class of Legends.

The Browns announced the honor on Tuesday, and he’ll be inducted during a halftime ceremony in Week 3, when the Browns host the Giants at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sept. 22.

“I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t ever dream about it,” Dawson said in a release. “You see these things through the years, and you get to know some of these former players, and you look up to them, and you start dreaming like, man, I want to be one of those guys someday. And that certainly was me. And it’s not about me. I want to represent the Browns and to have a chance to come back home and be recognized like this is about as humbling recognition as I’ve ever received, and it’s all because of the way I love Cleveland and I love the Browns organization. So, it’s as impactful of recognition as I’ve ever received and it just kind of blows me away, to be honest.”

In his 14 seasons with the Browns, Dawson was voted the 2012 Browns Player of the Year by the local PFWA chapter, the 2007 Dino Lucarelli “Good Guy” Award honoree by the PFWA, the 2006 Ed Block Courage Award winner by his teammates and the 2006 winner of the Doug Dieken Humanitarian Award for his charitable and community efforts.

“I was very fortunate that I had a long run in one place,” Dawson said. “A lot of guys in the league these days don’t have that. So, because of my 14 years there, I was really able to build relationships and develop a love for the city of Cleveland. It became a home for my family. We were plugged in. And so, as I look back on the whole thing, just the relationships I was able to build and then my love for the city – I really felt a connection with the people of Cleveland. I was one of them. It was my home. And I was very fortunate to be able to be in one place long enough for those things to happen.”

Signed by the Browns during their expansion season of 1999, Dawson won the job during training camp and held onto through the 2012 season, retiring as a Brown in 2019. He holds team records for most career field goals (305), highest career field goal percentage (84 percent) and highest field goal percentage in a season (93.5 percent in 2012). He also holds team records for most field goals in a game with six on Nov. 5, 2006, most consecutive field goals made with 29, and most consecutive games with a field goal at 23.

His 1,271 points are second-most by a Brown, and his 215 games are the third-most in club annals. His 14 seasons with the Browns are tied for second-most in club history.

“I had a very kind of a boutique role on the team,” Dawson said. “I got a handful of plays a game. It was an opportunity for me to go on the field and help my team. I wanted to be a guy that could be counted on at any moment, at any time, to do his job. And so, I really took a great deal of satisfaction – whether it was a long game winner that everyone remembers, or a nothing burger of a kick early in the game that really didn’t have an impact on the outcome – I’ve looked back really fondly on just knowing I was able to do my job meant a lot to me.”

Two of his most memorable kicks came during the 10-6 season of 2007, one in which they narrowly missed the playoffs. His 51-yard attempt bounced off the stanchion in Baltimore, and was originally ruled no good. But they overturned it, and Dawson went on to kick the game-winning field goal in overtime. His two field goals in a blizzard to beat the Bills 8-0 are among his favorites.

“That one means a lot to me, because on face value looking back on it, I had no business making those kicks,” Dawson said. “But somehow, someway, in that moment, was able to figure out a way to just kind of get the ball through the uprights. That’s one I really look back on.”

In 2008, he denied the Bills again, this time on Monday Night Football, when he boomed a 56-yard game winner with less than two minutes remaining.

“Playing on Monday Night Football and being a Texas kid – even though I’m at home in Cleveland – just chance for everybody back home kind of see what I’m up to,” Dawson said. “And so that was a big win for our team. It was a big personal moment for me, because anytime you can hit a long one on Monday Night Football at the end of the game, that’s pretty cool.”

But his most cherished memory, as he stated during his retirement press conference, was his love affair with the fans. He felt it again in full force when he served as Dawg Pound Captain last season and smashed the guitar to the roar of the crowd.

“The connection that I had and still have to the City of Cleveland is my most cherished accomplishment of my career,” he said.

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