“There is so much scheming, personnel matchups, strategy that goes into each and every kickoff that people will never understand,” he said. “All they see is a guy run and kick the ball. But there’s a lot that goes into it and it would be a shame to see that much thought be removed from the game.
“And hey, I’m probably someone who would benefit from this rule, so I don’t have a vested interest. I’m known as a field-goal guy, so if anything it would help me, so I’m not saying this because I’m mad, I’m a kicker and I’m going to lose. I don’t think this suggestion makes sense.”
The argument that taking away kickoffs would cost players jobs isn’t a sound one, Dawson said. Most teams use the same players to cover punts and kickoffs and only two teams have kickoff specialists.
“From when I was a little kid I dreamed about having the opening kickoff in the Super Bowl and all the flashbulbs go off,” he said. “I want to be that guy. There’s so much that can be accomplished on that play for both sides. To think a guy like Josh Cribbs wouldn’t have the opportunity to have the career he’s had because of all the excitement he’s brought the game.
“I can remember Desmond Howard returning a kick for a touchdown in the Super Bowl and what a game-changing play that was.”
Cribbs also applauds the NFL’s efforts to make the game safer, but thinks it’s becoming too muted. Stripping away the kickoff would make things worse.
“It’s getting to be too much of an entertainment business instead of a sport,” he said. “I know it’s a sport and entertainment and there’s a lot of revenue involved, but it’d be straight entertainment and no sports. We won’t even be on NFL Network, we’ll be on MTV.
“It’d be a made-up sport.”
NOTES: Browns P Reggie Hodges was named the club’s Ed Block Courage Award winner, given to the player who exemplifies courage, compassion, commitment and community service. Hodges came back after sustaining a season-ending Achilles injury in 2011. He went on a mission to Jamaica during the offseason, bringing shoes and supplies to underprivileged children. “He’s a great locker room guy and a great guy in the community,” Dawson of his teammate. “He certainly deserves that award.” … The Browns did not have a single player listed as “questionable,” “doubtful” or “out” on their injury report. They had 10 players listed as “probable.”