Dawson Era Ends in Cleveland
This story originally published on theOBR.com

OBR Senior Browns Reporter
Posted Mar 20, 2013

“Hey, Cleveland, thank you for a tremendous ride. Your love, support and encouragement have blessed me deeply.”

The end of an era is over!

As the new Browns regime of Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner prepare for their first full season in control, the Browns will be without a fan favorite since the team returned in 1999.

Phil Dawson was an icon in Cleveland and arguably the Most Valuable Player for the Browns in the past 14 seasons. Not too bad for a free agent who Chris Palmer quipped to Dawson in 1999, ‘We’re going to go with you, for now’, letting him know he made the team.

Fourteen years later, Dawson announced on his Twitter account that he was going to sign with the 49ers, giving him a legitimate shot to earn a Super Bowl next season. The 49ers lost in the Super Bowl to the Ravens, 34-31, just last month.

“I am humbled & thrilled to have the opportunity to continue my career with my new team, the SF 49ers!”

Dawson, 38, thanked Browns fans first before he announced that he was heading to the West Coast to join up with his former special teams coach, Brad Seely.

“Hey, Cleveland Thank you for a tremendous ride. Your love, support and encouragement have blessed me deeply.”

“Playing for you has been one of the great joys of my life & I wish you all the best.”

The Browns released a statement thanking Dawson for his service to the team.

"We want to thank Phil for all of his years of service to the Cleveland Browns. He accomplished a great deal in his time here on the field, as a team leader and in the community. We know how much Phil meant to our organization and our fans, and he will always hold a special place in our franchise's history and with the city of Cleveland. We want to wish Phil and his family the best of success in San Francisco."

Dawson went to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his NFL career after last season when he converted 29-of-31 field goals attempts. He has made 14-of-15 field goal attempts from 50 or more yards the last two seasons.

Dawson needed just one more season to surpass Lou Groza (1349) as the leading scorer all-time in Browns history. He is currently the ninth-most accurate kicker in NFL history with a percentage of 84.0.

Banner declined to comment on prior to Dawson’s announcement, whether the Browns tried to re-sign Dawson or not. He was asked if he understood why Dawson was so popular.

“I do and I don’t, it’s just relative,” Banner said on Monday to reporters at the owners meetings in Phoenix. “It’s just I’ve been in the league a long time and I understand players that have been on one team a long time, played as well as he has, have the affection that he deserves from the fans. I understand that.”

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