On Wednesday, the sports world learned that former Kansas City Chiefs All-Star quarterback Len Dawson passed away at 87.
RIP to the legend Len Dawson. The legacy and impact you made on Kansas City will live on forever. Prayers to his family 🙏🏽🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/AKMhxoUFYH
— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) August 24, 2022
Although he is remembered as a Chief, Dawson didn’t begin his career in Kansas City.
After playing at Purdue University, where he was an All-American and All-Big Ten selection, Dawson was a first-round pick in the 1957 Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He barely saw the field and his fate was sealed when the Steelers acquired former Detroit Lion quarterback Bobby Layne in 1958.
Since he was obviously not in Pittsburgh’s long-range plans, Dawson was hoping for a new opportunity.
On the last day of 1959, the Cleveland Browns made a trade with the Steelers for Dawson.
Unfortunately, just like he experienced in Pittsburgh, Dawson spent the 1960 and 1961 seasons as a backup to Milt Plum.
Cleveland Browns legend Len Dawson pic.twitter.com/MtqadCVSZM
— Sports Sightings (@SportsSightings) November 6, 2019
Cleveland released him after the ‘61 season having passed for 108 total yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions.
Dawson Becomes a Starter
After his release, Dawson was signed by the Dallas Texans of the American Football League and became their starter.
Along with passing for 2,759 yards, Dawson would lead the AFL in several categories in 1962 including touchdowns (29).
The Texans were then relocated to Kansas City before the 1963 season and renamed Chiefs.
Dawson would throw for over 2,000 yards each season for the next six years and was voted as an AFL All-Star six times.
Hall-of-Fame QB and broadcaster Len Dawson has passed away, according to his family. He was 87. pic.twitter.com/Tk9yHZNTV2
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 24, 2022
Additionally, he consistently led the league in several categories including passing yards, passing touchdowns, passer rating, and completion percentage.
Super Bowl Appearances
In 1966, the Chiefs went 11-2-1 and beat the Buffalo Bills in the AFL title game.
That gave Kansas City the distinction of facing the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I.
During the game, Dawson passed for 210 yards, one touchdown, and one pick, but the Packers were too much and won easily 35-10.
Three years later, Dawson suffered a knee injury in Week 2 of the 1969 season and looked to be done for the rest of the year.
However, he returned later in the season to lead the Chiefs back to the playoffs and to an appearance in Super Bowl IV against the Minnesota Vikings.
This time, Dawson and Kansas City would prevail 23-7.
RIP Len Dawson. From Super Bowl IV. pic.twitter.com/1Bi8ZC0hef
— The '60s at 60 (@the_60s_at_60) August 24, 2022
Dawson was MVP of the game after passing for 142 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
He would play many more years after, finally retiring after the 1975 season.
Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that Pittsburgh and Cleveland didn’t give Dawson a chance.
In 1987, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After retiring, Dawson became a noted broadcaster and in 2012 received the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award for his contributions as a sportscaster.
If you were fortunate enough to have HBO in the late-1970s through the 1990s, "Inside The #NFL" with Len Dawson and Nick Buoniconti was weekly appointment viewing.
Rest easy, gentlemen. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/QXqU3QnDzb
— Kevin Gallagher (@KevG163) August 24, 2022
The Chiefs also named their broadcast booth after Dawson.
In early August of this year, Dawson’s family shared that he had been moved into hospice care.
Dawson passed on Wednesday. He is survived by his wife, Linda, and two children.
“My family and I are heartbroken,” Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt said in a statement. “Len Dawson is synonymous with the Kansas City Chiefs. Len embraced and came to embody Kansas City and the people that call it home. You would be hard-pressed to find a player who had a bigger impact in shaping the organization as we know it today than Len Dawson did.”