Dawson thrilled to go home

Published:

BEREA (AP) -- When he was a kid, Browns kicker Phil Dawson worshipped the Dallas Cowboys.

In Texas, it's mandatory.

"Unless you grow up in Houston," Dawson said. "The rest of the state is Cowboys and that's all you did was follow the Cowboys."

And that he did.

Like many boys growing up deep in the heart of the Lone Star state, where football and religion intersect, Dawson dreamed of one day wearing the Cowboys' royal blue and famed five-pointed star. He even decked out his bedroom into a pseudo shrine to America's Team.

"I had a Doomsday Defense poster on my wall," Dawson said. "My high school years was the dynasty with the three Super Bowls. I was pretty spoiled as a football fan. My dad, we had season tickets, so I had a few stars sitting around the house and some good memories."

Dawson hopes to add new ones Sunday, when the Browns (2-7) visit the Cowboys (4-5) in what will be a second homecoming in two weeks for the 37-year-old, who has been perfect so far this season. During the Browns' bye last weekend, Dawson returned to his alma mater of Texas and was inducted into the Longhorns' Hall of Honor, a tribute he's "still absorbing."

It will be just Dawson's second game as a pro in Dallas, and his first visit inside 4-year-old Cowboys Stadium, the monstrous $1.3 billion marvel with its enormous high-definition TV screen, platforms of go-go dancers and retractable roof.

Dawson can't wait.

"I just hope they have the roof closed and it's a true dome game," said Dawson, who has made 23 straight field goals -- the NFL's longest current streak -- since last season. "It'll be fun to see it. I've driven by it. I haven't gone in it yet. But everyone I've talked to who's been in it says it's just ridiculous."

The only drawback has been filling ticket requests for family and friends. Dawson expects around 30 supporters.

"It's been growing every day," he said. "I'm about to close down the ticket office. I can't afford many more."

He's not the only Browns player with Cowboy connections.

Rookie running back Trent Richardson is hoping Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith will be in attendance. From the same high school in Pensacola, Fla., where Richardson broke most of Smith's records, the two have developed a close relationship.

Richardson speaks regularly to Smith, Dallas' iconic No. 22, for advice.

"That's one person I said I always wanted to be like when I was growing up," said Richardson, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in two straight games despite still being slowed by a rib cartilage injury. "I'm just trying to follow in his footsteps and see if I can do better than how he did. That's big footsteps to follow."

Richardson is trying to become the first Browns rookie to string together three straight 100-yard games, a feat even the great Jim Brown couldn't accomplish.

For Dawson, Sunday's game is a chance to continue what has been a personally sublime 14th NFL season.

Haden may not play

BEREA -- The Browns couldn't win without Joe Haden. They may have to try again.

Haden missed practice on Thursday with an oblique injury, and Cleveland may be missing its top cornerback -- and arguably its best defensive player -- on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

Haden, who was suspended four games by the NFL earlier this season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, got hurt during a drill in Wednesday's practice. He stayed on the field and was listed as "limited" on the Browns' injury report, but he did not participate at all on Thursday and his status for this week's game remains uncertain.

It's another setback for Cleveland's defense, which has been ravaged by injuries all season. Starting tackle Ahtyba Rubin is expected to return this week after missing three games with a calf injury, but if Haden can't play, the Browns will again be forced to adjust.

"When anyone's down, especially a starter, it hurts," safety T.J. Ward said. "Not having Joe will hurt us, but the next guy just has to step up. That's how it's been all year. We haven't had our complete defense on the field at any point. It just seems like everyone's starting to get back and Joe, I won't say he went down, but he hasn't been practicing. Hopefully we can have him this weekend."

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.