7 Best Cleveland Browns of the 21st Century
2. Phil Dawson
What is there to say about Phil Dawson that has not already been said? You could legitimately make the case that Dawson, a kicker, was far and away the best Cleveland Browns player in 1999. Dawson stayed with the Browns through their expansion years, had an appearance in a playoff game with Cleveland in 2002, and is still playing to this day.
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Dawson’s career with the Browns was perhaps something that only Browns fans around at the time would fully understand. He was a kicker, yes, but on a team often so bereft of talent, he was one of the players to watch. Dawson’s kicking form was, and sometimes still is, perfect. From the ages of 24 to 37, Dawson made the Browns’ field goal unit fun. When he was on, it felt like he could’ve hit from the other side of the field.
Of course, Dawson’s most famous moment came against the Baltimore Ravens in November of 2007. A 51-yard field goal kicked by Dawson went through the uprights, hit the stanchion of the field goal post, and bounced back out, hitting the ground of the endzone and being ruled no good. Dawson and the Browns argued that, although the play was unreviewable, the field goal should be considered good. Pete Morelli and the refereeing crew obliged, and sent the game to overtime.
Dawson may be the only kicker in the NFL to do that before or since, and the “Phil Dawson Rule” stands to this day as one of the most interesting, quirky, and simply eyebrow-raising rules in the NFL rulebook. Dawson, despite no Super Bowl rings and only four playoff game appearances, should go down as one of the best placekickers of all time.