Every successful man you meet in life will tell you that their personal achievements have only been made possible because they have always had a wingman at their side.
Without the wingman there is no man. He is not crucial, vital, or necessary; he is essential. The wingman guides you, protects you, embarks with you, and of course he is always there to bail you out.
If you don’t know who or what I am talking about, I’m speaking of an undercover legend that for the last 14 years has quietly been one of the best kickers in all of football. His name is Phil Dawson.
To the average American, Phil Dawson is nothing more than a guy with a normal name and a bald head. He is not sexy, crazy, or outlandish, but that is a role Mr. Dawson thrives in best.
He’s the “Silent Assassin.” You don’t know him or have ever seen him, but you know of him. He keeps to himself and never grabs the mic to garner some attention, but he lives for the pressure and the glory.
No moment is too big or small for Dawson, which is why he has a career 84.5 percent field goal percentage. This season alone, Dawson is 32/36 on field goal attempts and has been a safety net for the inconsistent San Francisco 49ers’ offense, including the game-winning 33-yard field goal in the AFC Wild Card game against the Green Bay Packers.
However, the “Silent Assassin’s” story began far from glory in the heart of Cowboy country, Austin, Texas. Dawson played college football for the University of Texas, where he went on to become a two-time All American. From there, he was signed by the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent, and was then eventually picked up by the New England Patriots.
It wasn’t until Dawson landed in the one city that needs a wingman more than any other, Cleveland, Ohio, that the Silent Assassin had finally found the perfect place to make his mark.
As I’m sure many of you know, Cleveland is a place always desperate for some help, and Dawson was just the man they needed to help fix some of their many problems. For the next 13 seasons, Dawson would be the Cleveland Browns field goal kicker, breaking Brown’s records for most consecutive field goals made (29) and most field goals in one game (6). In 2010, Dawson surpassed the legendary Lou Groza for most field goals made in franchise history, a great feat for those who care about the history of place kicking.
Here is a highlight reel of the Silent Assassin’s time as a Brown (this was really hard to find, so do me the favor and watch this video from start to finish, please).
After 13 years in a Brown’s uniform (which still amazes me), Dawson signed with the San Francisco 49ers last offseason in hopes of winning a Super Bowl (during his tenure as a Brown, Dawson never even reached the playoffs).
In his first season as a 49er, Dawson has continued to kick like none other, and after last Sunday’s 3/3 effort in a win against the Carolina Panthers, Dawson is currently 6/6 this postseason on field goals.
The relationship between the fan, the team, and the kicker has always intrigued me. Kickers have been known to be weird creatures of habit. Between the long routines, no shoe on their kicking foot, and the fact that many kickers look like someone the coach pulled out of the stands, the kicker has always done things differently. But yet, when it matters most, coaches call upon their kicker more often than not to bail the team out, put three points on the board, and sometimes even win a Super Bowl.
Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, I witnessed a lot of friends suffer through the Browns losses. But in spite of all the terrible times and four win seasons, there was always one man who fans, teammates, and coaches alike looked to for guidance, protection, and the occasional win: Phil Dawson.
Although there was never a chance the Cleveland Browns would ever be a Super Bowl contender during his tenure, fans always believed that Phil could be the hope and savior to bring the Browns back to glory.
Sadly, Dawson is long gone from Cleveland, and Browns fans don’t have much to look forward to, but Dawson is finally getting the recognition that is long overdue.
The Silent Assassin is two games away from winning a Super Bowl, and I’m willing to bet his team will call upon that right leg of his when the pressure is at its highest.
For all the wingmen out there, keep chugging along Phil. We’re all rooting for ya.