Where are they now: Doug Dawson

Daniel Clay

Few people are good enough and devoted enough to become consensus All-Americans while pursuing a petroleum engineering degree.

Doug Dawson, a former Texas offensive lineman, managed to succeed in both.

Dawson, an academic and consensus All-American who played from 1980–1983, became a starter by sophomore year. But managing his full-time studies and full-time football career wasn’t easy.

“It means you have no life,” Dawson said. “The old college experience, you know, ‘Hey we’ll meet you out on one of the lakes,’ or ‘We’ll meet you out at Barton Creek’ — that was not my college experience. My college experience was studying and playing football.”

But the sacrifices Dawson made on the 40 Acres paid off. His accomplishments across the board at Texas caught the eye of teammates and general managers alike.

“Doug excelled at the fundamentals,” said Vance Bedford, current Texas defensive coordinator and a collegiate teammate of Dawson’s for two years. “He did the little things extremely well. The work ethic; you couldn’t say enough good things about Doug.”

The St. Louis Cardinals, currently known as the Rams, took Dawson in the second round of the 1984 NFL Draft. Dawson played in eight seasons in the NFL. But what set Dawson apart from other NFL players is the way he prepared for his career after football.

Always wanting to stay a step ahead of the curve, Dawson began thinking about life after football as soon as he joined the NFL. After his rookie season, he passed the test to become a licensed stockbroker. Not long after that, he signed on with Northwestern Mutual and found himself balancing two careers at once.

“I had a couple of injuries about halfway through my career that kept me out of a couple of seasons during that 11-year span,” Dawson said. “That is when I decided to become a financial adviser.”

In the final season of his career, Dawson started as offensive lineman for a playoff-bound Cleveland Browns, which Bill Belichick coached. But he soon found out he was making more money working in his new job in his spare time.

When the 1994 season ended with a second-round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dawson, then-33, decided to retire from football and become a full-time financial adviser.

“I kind of hit the ground running,” Dawson said. “When they start offering you less to play pro football than you make in your regular business … you start thinking it’s time to grow up and get a big-boy job.”

Although the careers are on opposite spectrums, Dawson finds many similarities between his former and current career — they have the same basic principles. 

“As an offensive lineman, my job was to serve my quarterback and to block, and it’s a role where you’re not in the limelight,” Dawson said. “The more you learn to serve other peoples’ needs, the more successful you’ll become. In business and in work, you have got to serve other people’s needs to be successful.”