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Phil Dawson named to 2024 class of Browns Legends

Dawson began his NFL with the Browns in 1999 and retired as a member of the Browns in 2019


Phil Dawson didn't want to be like a souped-up sports car.

Instead, he always strived to be like the dependable old pickup truck that would fire up whenever it was needed. That's how he approached his kicking career in the NFL, and particularly with the Browns.

"I kind of took a workman-like approach – first quarter, fourth quarter, game on the line, blowout, none of that mattered," Dawson said. "I had a job to do. I was going to go out there try to be that pickup truck that could be called upon no matter what."

Over his 14-year career with the Browns – and 20 seasons in the NFL – Dawson accomplished that goal. After retiring as a member of the Browns in 2019, Dawson's legacy will be highlighted once again in 2024.

The Browns announced they have named Dawson to the 2024 class of Browns Legends. Dawson will be honored during a halftime ceremony in Week 3 (Sept. 22), when the Browns host the Giants at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

"I'd be lying if I told you I didn't ever dream about it," Dawson said. "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."

Dawson appeared in 305 career regular season games during his 20 NFL seasons from 1999-2018. He ranks among the all-time NFL leaders in games played (seventh with 305), field goals made (eighth with 441), points scored (11th with 1,847) and field goal percentage (16th with 83.8).

While there were certain moments over the course of his career that stand out as highlights, Dawson approached every opportunity he was on the field with a high level of focus and preparation.

"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."

Even so, there were momentous kicks that decorated his career in Cleveland. One of his most famous kicks occurred in 2007 against the Ravens. As Dawson kicked a 51-yard field goal attempt, the officials originally called the kick no good. However, they reconvened and overruled the call, and sent the game to overtime. Then, the Browns beat the Ravens 33-30 on another field goal from Dawson.

In 2008 when the Browns faced the Bills on Monday Night Football, Dawson hit a 56-yard field goal with less than two minutes left in the game and would win the game for the Browns.

"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."

Even the blizzard game against the Bills in 2007, where Dawson made two field goals and helped lead Cleveland to an 8-0 win over Buffalo, is still meaningful to him. Dawson described the atmosphere of the game as playing football in the front yard. Both teams struggled to throw the ball because of the wind gusts and the blowing snow. Yet, Dawson took the field and hit two crucial field goals.

"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."

Originally signed by the Browns in 1999, Dawson won the placekicking job during training camp and remained with the team through the 2012 season. He holds team records for most career field goals with 305, highest career field goal percentage at 84.0 percent and highest field goal percentage in a season with 93.5 percent in 2012. He also holds team records for most field goals in a game when he hit six on Nov. 5, 2006, most consecutive field goals made with 29 and most consecutive games with a field goal at 23 games.

He scored 1,271 points with Cleveland, the second most by a Brown, and his 215 games are the third-most by a Browns player. His 14 seasons with the club are tied for the second most among any Browns player. In 2012, Dawson was selected to his first Pro Bowl.

A perennial team captain, Dawson also made a major impact in the Cleveland community. He teamed up with the Adoption Network to invite families who recently adopted children to each home game from 2008-12, so they could form new memories as a family.

He 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."

The Cleveland Browns organization honors the men who have contributed to the success of the Browns organization. The Legends Program started in 2001 with the automatic induction of the Browns' then Pro Football Hall of Famers along with the initial class of five other inductees. An eight-person selection panel chooses the players to be honored. To qualify as a Browns Legend, the players must have played for the team for at least five years, been a major contributor at their respective position and been retired from the NFL for at least five years.

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