Many people may know Phil Dawson from his days as an NFL kicker.
But now, the NFL kicking great helps the Lipscomb Academy Mustangs alongside fellow NFL alum, LA head coach Trent Dilfer, as the team's special teams coordinator.
In his college days, Dawson went to the University of Texas where he went undrafted. He was in the NFL for 21 years, playing for the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals.
“To start out as an undrafted free agent,” said Dawson, “I had to grind, scratch, and fight for everything from that moment forward. To wind up making it 21 years is probably one of the things that I am the most proud of. So just being able to make a career out of it and make a few kicks along the way is something that I feel pretty good about.”
Dawson’s longest stint was with the Browns. He became the organization’s second all-time scorer and record holder for most field goals made after spending 1999 to 2012 with the team.
“When you spend 14 years at one place you develop with not only the organization, but I was able to really get a bond with the city,” said Dawson. “I certainly identify myself as a Brown.”
Like many former NFL players much like himself, Dawson knew that he wanted to coach at some form or fashion once his career was over. It was more of a matter of how soon after his playing days he would start coaching more than anything else.
When it came down to it, Dawson decided to take a year away from football before joining former teammate and close friend Dilfer (who played for Cleveland in 2005) on Lipscomb Academy’s football staff as the special teams coach in March of this year.
“When you do something for over two decades and all of a sudden you’re not doing it anymore, life feels a little differently,” said Dawson. “I went back home to Austin, Texas, and the plan was to be there forever. Over that year I just couldn’t shake this coaching bug, so when year two rolled around and the opportunity became available to come up here, we sat down as family like we always do and get in on this adventure.”
Another role Dawson has for Lipscomb Academy is one that a lot of people outside of the community may not know about. He is also the Mustangs' weather man. Dawson posts weekly weather reports on his Twitter account before the Mustangs football games.
What started off as something small has turned out to become a staple as the entire Lipscomb community has embraced this and has turned it into a regular event.
“In my playing days as a kicker I didn’t necessarily have to study film as quite as much as the other guys because I didn’t have an opponent across the line of scrimmage from me,” said Dawson.
“I didn’t necessarily have that, but I had the weather. When you play in an area like Cleveland or San Francisco, the weather was my opponent. So I chose to approach the game much like a position player would, and I studied the weather like crazy. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, but we gonna keep going with it and see where it goes from here.”
Dawson has certainly become a beloved member of the staff already in his first year. The transition hasn’t been easy for him, though, coming from being a football player for most of his life to now being a high school football coach.
There are two things that he always wants the players he coaches to remember: potential and opportunity.
“God gives each one of us a certain potential and it’s our job to chase that each and every day,” said Dawson.
“However good you can be, that’s what you should be chasing. God’s also the author of opportunity, so when he decides it’s your time to have a chance, you gotta be ready. I hope that when it’s all said and done that this group of players and any subsequent group of players that I have will have that mindset.”