Ferd's Words After 14-year wait, Dawson can stand a little rain By Ferd Lewis Jan. 24, 2013 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! ASSOCIATED PRESSPhil Dawson converted 29 of 31 field-goal attempts this season. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. The darkening clouds that had hovered menacingly over the Kapolei High football field Wednesday morning were beginning to release their moisture as a cold wind whipped through. But while his AFC teammates and spectators at Pro Bowl practice began moving for cover or toward the waiting buses, Cleveland Browns place-kicker Phil Dawson observed, “This has all the makings of a good day.” For one thing, it was 15 degrees and snowing back in Cleveland. For another, it was his 38th birthday and Dawson’s appearance at the first practice was pinch-me proof he had, indeed, finally been selected to the Pro Bowl. It had taken 14 seasons — the second-longest wait in the 43 years of the AFC vs. NFC format. Only Tampa Bay tight end Dave Moore in 2006 had waited longer, 15 seasons. So, Dawson, the graying, self-described “rookie,” was determined to enjoy every drop of it leading up to and through Sunday’s game at Aloha Stadium. This was the trip Dawson seemed a long shot to make. He was an undrafted free agent out of Texas, cut loose by Oakland and New England without playing in a game before landing in Cleveland in 1999. And, as the seasons rolled by, he long wondered if this was an all-star game he would ever play in. All those years of watching the names crawl across the bottom of the TV screen on announcement day without seeing his were taking a toll. It wasn’t like he lacked the credentials. His career has been a remarkable long haul of consistency in which he has made 87 percent of his field goals and broke franchise records of Pro Football Hall of Famer Lou “The Toe” Groza. Yet, despite his efforts — and Dawson has had four games of five field goals — the Browns have managed just two winning seasons in 14 years, hurting his case. So, this season, with Dawson on the way to making 93.5 percent of his field goals (29 of 31), including all seven from 50 yards and beyond, and all 13 of 40 yards or more, teammate Reggie Hodges was determined to see the deeds did not go unrewarded. Hodges saw Dawson lagging in the early voting and aggressively began a Twitter campaign to get out the fans’ votes on Dawson’s behalf with Tweets like this in the home stretch: “Get some more votes in before you go to bed tonight! Phil Dawson for Pro Bowl!” While Dawson said, “I hadn’t given up, I will say that through the years I learned not to think about it as much because I didn’t want to put myself through the disappointment. The competitor in me and the personality I have, I’m one of those goal-setters, every year I aimed for the Pro Bowl, but there was a certain level of disappointment.” When his family finally spied his name among the Pro Bowl selections this year, they erupted in cheers. “It was surreal,” Dawson said. “In a lot of ways, it is still sinking in.” Teammates festooned his locker with artificial lei and letters spelling out “A-l-o-h-a.” Browns’ Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas, a six-year veteran of the game, said, “He is a guy who has been deserving for several years, but just hasn’t been on a winning team. So, for him to be able to do it in his (14th) season was just fantastic.” It was acknowledgement of Dawson’s 2012 season, but, more than that, a recognition of a career built on perseverance as much as accuracy. ——— Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4820. Previous Story Asian-Americans reach the top of the mountain Next Story Hawaii saved Pro Bowl once; will players return the favor?