Hall Of Fame Chiefs Quarterback Len Dawson Dies At 87

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson, whose unmistakable swagger in serving to the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs to their first Tremendous Bowl title earned him the nickname “Lenny the Cool,” died Wednesday. He was 87.

Dawson’s household introduced his dying in an announcement via KMBC, the Kansas Metropolis-based tv station the place he starred in his second profession as a broadcaster. No trigger was given, although Dawson had been in declining well being for years.

“With wife Linda at his side, it is with much sadness that we inform you of the passing of our beloved Len Dawson,” the household’s assertion learn. “He was a wonderful husband, father, brother and friend. Len was always grateful and many times overwhelmed by the countless bonds he made during his football and broadcast careers.”

The MVP of the Chiefs’ victory over the Vikings in January 1970, Dawson had entered hospice care on Aug. 12.

“He loved Kansas City,” his household stated, “and no matter where his travels took him, he could not wait to return home.”

Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson, who helped the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs to their first Tremendous Bowl title, died Wednesday. He was 87.

Colin E. Braley through Related Press

Dawson personified the Chiefs virtually from the beginning, when the suave standout from Purdue misplaced out on beginning jobs in Pittsburgh and Cleveland and landed with the nascent franchise, then situated in Dallas. There, Dawson reunited with Hank Stram, who had been an assistant with the Boilermakers, and collectively they ceaselessly modified the franchise.

The coach and quarterback gained the AFL championship collectively in 1962, their first yr collectively, and have become bona fide stars the next yr, when membership founder Lamar Hunt moved the group to Kansas Metropolis and rechristened it the Chiefs.

They proceeded to win two extra AFL titles, one in 1966 once they misplaced to the Packers within the first Tremendous Bowl, and the opposite in ’69, when Dawson got here again from an harm to assist beat the Vikings at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.

“Looking back on my career, I’ve been blessed for what I had the opportunity to do,” Dawson stated instructed The Related Press in 2017, shortly after he introduced his retirement from his second profession as a Hall of Fame broadcaster.

“I could not have accomplished so much without my teammates and colleagues, and I’m grateful for each of them.”

Dawson at all times remained a beloved determine in Kansas Metropolis, despite the fact that he reduce on public appearances a number of years in the past when his well being started to fail him. However he at all times had time for followers, whether or not it’s {a photograph} or signature, the latter usually on an iconic black-and-white photograph from halftime of that first Tremendous Bowl: the exhausted quarterback, white uniform caked with mud, sitting on a folding chair with a cigarette in his mouth and a bottle of Fresca at his toes.

It completely captured a time and place. And it completely captured a person that embodied poise and self-assurance.

“Next to my father, few people have had a more lasting impact on the Kansas City Chiefs than Len Dawson,” Chiefs proprietor Clark Hunt stated a number of years in the past. “Over the course of a legendary career, first as a player and later as a broadcaster, Len has been a part of every major moment in franchise history.”

Dawson was born June 20, 1935, the ninth of 11 youngsters that crammed the home of James and Annie Dawson within the blue-collar manufacturing city of Alliance, Ohio. He was a three-sport athlete at Alliance Excessive College, setting information in each soccer and basketball, and turned his success on the gridiron right into a scholarship provide from Purdue.

There, Dawson led the NCAA in passing effectivity as a sophomore whereas additionally enjoying protection and kicking, and he helped lead a memorable upset of Notre Dame throughout that 1954 season. By the tip of his faculty profession, Dawson had thrown for greater than 3,000 yards, regardless of enjoying in an period that favored ground-and-pound soccer.

Dawson was chosen by the Steelers within the first spherical of the 1957 draft, however he wound up using the bench behind Earl Morrall as a rookie after which did not beat out Bobby Layne for he beginning job the next season. The Steelers finally traded him to the Browns, the place Dawson was unable to beat out Milt Plum for the job and was launched.

One of many nice disappointments of Dawson’s profession wound up being among the best issues to ever occur to him.

With newfound freedom to signal anyplace, Dawson jumped to the upstart AFL and the Texans, lured partly by the possibility to play for certainly one of his outdated coaches at Purdue. Stram was capable of lastly faucet into his expertise, serving to Dawson to rapidly develop into one of many league’s prolific passers because the Texans went 11-3 and gained the primary of three championships.

The second got here in 1966, when Dawson led the Chiefs to an 11-2-1 document and a 31-7 blowout of the Payments within the AFL title recreation. That earned the Chiefs the possibility to face the powerhouse Inexperienced Bay Packers — and coach Vince Lombardi — within the inaugural Tremendous Bowl, the place Dawson threw for 210 yards and a landing in a 35-10 defeat.

It was the 1969 season that proved to be essentially the most memorable of Dawson’s profession, although. He sustained a critical knee harm in opposition to the Patriots in Week 2, forcing him to overlook the following 5 video games, however went on a tear as soon as he returned to the sphere. Dawson led the Chiefs to victories over the defending champion Jets and bitter rival Raiders to succeed in what can be the ultimate Tremendous Bowl earlier than the AFL-NFL merger, the place he threw for 142 yards and a rating in a 23-7 triumph.

“It was overwhelming,” Dawson stated afterward. “It’s just, you know how that relief comes with you know it’s over with, and we’ve been successful? That’s the feeling that I had when I came off the field.”

Dawson continued to play for six extra seasons in Kansas Metropolis, setting many franchise information that stood till a teenager named Patrick Mahomes got here alongside, earlier than hanging up his helmet after the 1975 season.

Alongside the best way, Dawson parlayed what started as a publicity stunt right into a second profession in broadcasting.

In 1966, then-Chiefs basic supervisor Jack Steadman needed to drum up assist for the franchise in Kansas Metropolis and satisfied Dawson to anchor a sports activities section on the nightly information. His pure charisma and folksy fashion made Dawson a pure, he turned his consideration to TV and radio on a full-time foundation after his enjoying profession had completed.

Dawson continued to work in native TV for a number of a long time, including recreation evaluation for NBC from 1977-82 and internet hosting HBO’s iconic “Inside the NFL” from 1977-2001. He additionally served greater than three a long time on the Chiefs’ radio broadcast group.

After going into the Hall of Fame as a participant in 1987, Dawson was inducted as a broadcaster in 2012.

“It’s been a true privilege and honor to have Len at the center of our broadcast team for the last 33 years,” stated Dan Israel, the manager producer of the Chiefs’ radio community, upon his retirement a number of years in the past. “His contributions to not only this sport, but our industry, are incredibly profound.”

Dawson was married to his highschool sweetheart, Jackie, from 1954 till her dying in 1978, and collectively that they had two youngsters. His second spouse, Linda, remained by his aspect as Dawson entered hospice care.