Dawson was a standout junior player with the Windsor AKO Fratmen team, winners of the 1952 national junior championship (the "Little Grey Cup") in a 15-12 victory over the Edmonton Wildcats. Several CFL teams were bidding for his services, but he chose the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, with whom he'd have a 7 season career. In his first season he won the Gruen Trophy as best rookie in the east (no stats were kept, and only Canadians qualified for the award) and won the Grey Cup championship. He also won the Grey Cup in 1957.
Primarily a defensive back, he made 5 interceptions in his career, he could substitute on offense, catching 11 passes in 1956. He could also play quarterback, and in 1956 he got the chance, which was a rarity, as very few Canadians got to play QB during this era. On October 20 the Cats were suffering a record setting defeat to the Montreal Alouettes, 82-14, when coach Jim Trimble replaced starting QB Tony Curcillo. Dawson came on and completed 5 of 8 passes for 1 touchdown.
Dawson was enshrined in the Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.