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Tracking the grads: Lake Dawson rising through Titans’ front office
It looks like Lake Dawson will have to wait a little longer to become a general manager in the National Football League.
The 1990 Federal Way High School graduate was the front runner to become the GM of the St. Louis Rams before he was promoted by the Tennessee Titans. Dawson, who has spent five years in the Titans’ front office, is now the vice president of player personnel.
“Lake, he’s destined to be a GM here at some point,” said current Tennessee general manager Ruston Webster. “We’re planning on him being around for a while.”
The promotion came after Dawson interviewed for the vacant general manger position in St. Louis and, by numerous accounts, was close to signing a deal. The 40-year-old spent a full day with the Rams’ Chief Operating Officer/Vice President of Football Operations Kevin Demoff last month. The Chicago Bears also showed interest in Dawson becoming their general manager.
But the promotion by Tennessee essentially takes Dawson’s name off any teams’ radar screens, according to titaninsider.com. In his new role, Dawson will work alongside Webster and manage and oversee day-to-day football operation duties for the Titans’ pro personnel department, including free agent signings, scouting and advances. He also scouts all levels of professional football, including the NFL, Canadian Football League and Arena Football League.
In addition, Dawson assists in coordinating, evaluating and ranking the nation’s top-rated collegiate prospects for the annual NFL Draft.
Dawson’s name was linked to the St. Louis general manager job because the Rams hired longtime Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher as its head coach following their 2-14 season. Dawson and Fisher worked together from 2007-10.
After graduating from Federal Way High School, the all-state receiver went on to play four seasons at Notre Dame. Dawson caught 80 passes and four touchdowns for the Irish before being drafted in the third round by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1994. During his four-year NFL career, Dawson caught 103 passes for 1,406 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He was listed for two seasons on the roster of the Indianapolis Colts, but never played and ultimately retired due to injury.
Following his playing days, Dawson started his front office career as a pro personnel assistant in 2001 for his hometown Seattle Seahawks. He eventually moved his way up the ladder to assistant director of pro personnel before moving on to the Tennessee Titans in 2007.
While with the Seahawks, Dawson was an instrumental member of the personnel department and helped Seattle win the NFC West in three consecutive seasons and a Super Bowl berth in 2005.
In 2007, Dawson moved to Tennessee along with former Seahawks’ VP of football administration Mike Reinfeldt to became the Titans’ director of pro scouting. Reinfeldt was hired as Tennessee’s general manager and is now the Titans’ senior executive VP and chief operating officer.
Dawson, who has three children with his wife, Lori, could have been the third Federal Way school district graduate to become the general manager of a major professional sports franchise in the last decade.
Decatur grad Rich Cho is currently the GM of the Charlotte Bobcats in the National Basketball League and Federal Way grad Bob Ferguson was general manager of the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals during the early 2000s.
Cho, 46, spent seven seasons as the assistant general manager for the Seattle SuperSonics before having to pack his bags and make the move to Oklahoma City. He spent two seasons with the the Thunder in Oklahoma before taking over the general manager duties for the Portland Trailblazers, where he was fired after just one season.
During his tenure with the Sonics and Thunder, Cho’s main responsibilities included assisting the general manager in player contract negotiations, drafting all player contracts, handling anything related to the salary cap and the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and working closely with college scouts. He also dealt a lot with both the NBA legal department and player agents.
After graduating from Decatur, Cho went on to Washington State University, earning his degree in 1989 from Pullman. Cho then started working as an engineer at Boeing, where he spent five years.
Ferguson, 60, was hired by Seattle, replacing Mike Holmgren, following the 2003 season and guided the Seahawks to the NFL Playoffs in both his seasons. He graduated from Federal Way in 1968. Ferguson also worked for the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals, where he was the general manager from 1999-2003.