Philadelphia Eagles promote Dawson to asst. defensive line coach

By Ed Niser

eniser@nashobapub.com

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Life in the NFL can be an uncertain business. Your job is by no means guaranteed, and it can end in the blink of an eye.

For North Middlesex alum and former athletic director Mike Dawson, formerly of Pepperell, he not only made it through his first season as defensive quality control coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, he was offered a promotion to assistant defensive line coach at the end of the season.

When Erik Chinchander made the decision to head back to coach at the University of Oregon, a door opened up for Dawson ... and he bounded through it.

"I worked with the linebackers primarily last year," Dawson said. "I was moved to the D-line to coach with Joey Azzinaro, who I played with at UMass and coached with at UMaine, so I am really excited about that. I am just going to continue to learn from him like I have done for the better part of 20 years now. When Chinchander left, Chip came in and told me he was going to promote me to assistant defensive line coach. I guess he liked the way I went about it last season."

Philadelphia advanced to the National Football Conference wild card round before being eliminated, 26-24, in a close loss to New Orleans.

"It was a lot of fun," Dawson said of his first year as an NFL assistant coach. "The guys really came together as a team and worked really hard at it. It was a great group of guys to be around. Head coach Chip Kelly and the assistant coaches I work with in the room are really great."

Dawson's typical workday starts around 7 a.m., when he and the rest of the Eagles' coaching staff stagger into the complex and often does not end until the wee hours of the night once all of the players have gone home.

A full-time job requires employees 40 hours-per-week on average.

However, being an NFL assistant coach is not your average job.

"I didn't count how many hours I worked," he said. "If you're awake, you're working -- that's pretty much how it is during the season. We have enough to do going into the week. The hours get really long at the beginning of the week. It starts to taper off around Thursday and Friday when you are usually traveling. There are no days off starting in mid July. There are no days off until you are done playing."

Before accepting his job with the Eagles last season, Dawson had not stepped foot in an NFL stadium since he was a sophomore at North Middlesex, when he went to see a New England Patriots game at the old Foxboro Stadium.

"We have been to some great places," the former North Middlesex athletic director said. "All of the stadiums now are pretty nice. We were at MetLife both in the preseason and regular season. Going to Green Bay was pretty awesome, that certainly is one of the Meccas of football. There were some pretty great trips. You could go down the list. I really enjoyed getting to see some of those places that I had never seen before.

The hardest thing for Dawson to get used to is being away from his family for long extended periods during the grind of the season.

"It truly did fly by," he said of his first season in the NFL. "If you are going in and liking what you are doing each day -- if I am not mistaken, I have an awesome job and I am pretty lucky to be a part of it."