Dawson was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his 14-year career Wednesday night, while Thomas earned his sixth Pro Bowl selection in six professional seasons.
“It’s really exciting to know Phil will be coming with me this year to Hawaii,” Thomas said. “He’s been deserving multiple times in the past and he’s played as well as any kicker in the NFL for many years, so it’s awesome to see him finally be recognized.
“Making the Pro Bowl is always a nice reward after a season of good work, even if your team didn’t have the kind of year you had hoped for.”
Voting by fans, players and coaching staffs each counted one-third toward determining the AFC and NFC teams for the game at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
Dawson’s candidacy received a huge boost from punter Reggie Hodges, who conducted an online campaign to encourage fans to vote for his friend. He also called punters around the conference in hopes of soliciting their support.
Clearly, Hodges’ efforts paid off as Dawson finished second in the fan vote behind Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski and won his first Pro Bowl berth.
“I am always going to remember Reggie’s role in all of this,” said Dawson, who has scored 1,267 career points over 214 games with the Browns. “To have a friend that’s a teammate like Reggie go out and mobilize the fan base, it means a tremendous amount to me, especially when you consider how many great kickers there are in this league.”
Dawson, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, leads the NFL with a .966 field goal percentage and is 6-of-6 on 50-plus yard attempts. He has 112 points and became the first Cleveland kicker ever to be chosen for the Pro Bowl — all nine of Lou “The Toe” Groza’s selections were at tackle.
“It was a pretty priceless moment when we were watching the selection show and my name came up on the screen,” said Dawson, who will turn 38 on Jan. 23. “My kids went nuts and my wife (Shannon) went nuts. That made all these years of waiting worth it.
“I really don’t know what to feel right now. I have a lot of emotions mixing together, but I am definitely going to enjoy this tonight.”
Thomas joined Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown as the only Browns to be chosen for six Pro Bowls in their first six seasons. Additionally, he became just the second NFL offensive lineman in the Super Bowl era to go 6-of-6 to start a career, following Miami’s Richmond Webb.
“I was happy that Phil and Joe were recognized for having Pro Bowl seasons,” Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur said. “Joe has established himself as one of the top left tackles in the game, and he has played at a very high level once again this year. He was a big part of the improvement that I felt we made as an offense.”
Three other Browns were chosen as first alternates and will be added to the AFC roster if any player at their position is injured or advances to the Super Bowl.
D’Qwell Jackson (inside linebacker), Alex Mack (center) and Joshua Cribbs (kick returner and special teamer) each finished one spot shy of making the Pro Bowl.
The AFC inside linebackers are New England’s Jerod Mayo and Kansas City’s Derrick Johnson; the centers are Pittsburgh’s Maurkice Pouncey and Houston’s Chris Myers; the kick returner is Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones and the special teamer is New England’s Matthew Slater.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.