The best No. 4 for the Cleveland Browns is also their 2nd all-time scorer
The countdown to the 2020 NFL season is upon us. With 4 days remaining until the Browns season opener, we continue the countdown by celebrating the best Cleveland Browns player to wear number 4: Phil Dawson.
The 1998 NFL draft came and went without Phil Dawson hearing his name called. Dawson left the University of Texas after a stellar career as their placekicker. He was the school’s all-time leading scorer and held 12 additional records for the Longhorns. In 2012, Dawson was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
Dawson was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Oakland Raiders but was subsequently waived. He was then picked up by the New England Patriots, where he spent the year on their practice squad. Luckily for the Browns, the Patriots already had a young Adam Vinatieri as their kicker.
In March of 1999, Dawson was signed by the Browns in their return to the NFL. What began as a tenuous grasp on the kicker position turned into a death grip as Dawson would spend 14 years as the Browns placekicker. During a time of uncertainty and disappointment, Dawson was a constant for the Browns and at times their best weapon.
From scoring the first points of the Browns franchise after their rebirth to making an astounding 29 straight field goals, Dawson’s legacy can be found all over the Browns’ record books. Dawson played in 215 games for the Browns and is second all-time in team history with 1,271 points scored trailing only Lou ‘The Toe’ Groza.
Dawson and Groza are respectfully the two greatest kickers in Browns’ franchise history. Dawson played in one less contest than Groza did for the franchise. However, Dawson successfully kicked 305 field goals, which is the most in team history, despite attempting 42 fewer field goals than Groza. Where Groza makes up the difference is the number of extra points made which falls more on the offense than it does Dawson. Groza attempted 657 extra points which are 299 more attempts than Dawson was afforded.
During his outstanding fourteen-year career with the Browns, Dawson’s best season came in 2012, his last with the team. In 2012, Dawson made 29 of the 31 field goals he attempted and was a perfect seven for seven from 50 yards and beyond. In that season, he also made 100% of his extra-point attempts, a feat he accomplished seven times as a member of the Browns, including three straight seasons to finish his career in the Brown and Orange. Dawson was voted to the Pro Bowl for his stellar 2012 campaign.
On August 2nd of 2019, Dawson signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Browns after spending six seasons away from Cleveland. It was a classy move by both Dawson and the franchise. Dawson should be a shoo-in for the Browns Legends Program in the near future.
Phil Dawson will always be remembered fondly by Browns’ fans for being the one shining light in an era of darkness, and many fans would love for him to come out of retirement to resume his old position to this day. Dawson is by far and away the best player to ever wear number 4 for the Cleveland Browns.