However, season after season, he was snubbed in Pro Bowl voting, with fans and players alike passing him over for kickers with better name recognition or from teams with a better win-loss record.
The Pro Bowl is mostly notable these days for generating debate about who did, and who didn't, make the roster, rather than being a must-see contest. Many times that debate is moot, with enough starters and alternates dropping out of the free trip to Hawaii, opting to not play a game players aren't very enthusiastic about or, for some, because they're set to play in the Super Bowl the following week.
But if any player is guaranteed to take advantage of this particular honor, it's Dawson. This season, Dawson has made 28 of his 29 attempted field goals, notching his lone miss in Week 13 against the Oakland Raiders.
With 112 points on the season, he's the Browns' leading scorer, and certainly a folk hero of sorts among the Cleveland faithful. It's a fitting reward for a player in an oft-overlooked position on an oft-overlooked team.
Joining him on the AFC's starting roster is offensive tackle Joe Thomas, who has made the Pro Bowl for his sixth straight year. As Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes, making the Pro Bowl for that many years in a row is a good sign that Thomas could someday be headed for the Hall of Fame. Of the 15 players who have been voted to the Pro Bowl in each of their first six seasons, 13 have been enshrined in the Hall, Jim Brown and Barry Sanders among them.
Browns first alternates include center Alex Mack, special teams returner Josh Cribbs—also likely his final Pro Bowl as a Brown—and linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who is Cleveland's leading combined tackler, with 113, and also has 3.5 sacks, two interceptions (one for a touchdown), two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries on the year.
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