Len Dawson, a quarterback who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was a Kansas City icon and a legend for the Kansas City Chiefs.
“We, my family, are devastated. The Kansas City Chiefs are synonymous with Len Dawson. Len embraced and eventually came to represent Kansas City and the locals. It would be difficult to find a player who had a greater influence on the organization’s development than Len Dawson did “Clark Hunt, the Chiefs’ chairman and CEO, said. “Throughout my entire life, I have admired Len, first as a Hall of Fame athlete on the field and later as he made the switch to a lucrative broadcasting career. Len prioritised giving back to the neighbourhood he loved throughout his remarkable career. A true legend for the series has been lost. Linda and his family are in our thoughts and prayers.”
During his illustrious 14-year tenure with the Kansas City Chiefs, Dawson served as the franchise’s heart and soul. He helped the team become one of the top ones in professional football while also developing into one of the game’s best passers.
Hank Stram, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, who recruited Dawson to the Texans/Chiefs organisation in 1962, guided Dawson’s Chiefs to three AFL titles in 1962, 1966, and 1969. He won the Super Bowl IV MVP award after leading Kansas City to a 23-7 victory over the hotly favoured Minnesota Vikings. The four-time AFL MVP still holds the franchise records for pass attempts (3,696), completions (2,115), passing yards (28,507), and touchdowns during his career (237).
He was selected for six AFL All-Star teams, one Pro Bowl team, and the 1962 AFL Player of the Year award. For Kansas City, Dawson started 158 regular-season games, the most of any quarterback in the organization’s history. In four different seasons (1962, 1964, 1966, and 1968), he was the AFL’s top passer. He also led the league in completion percentage eight times, including six straight seasons from 1964 to 1969.
One of five Chiefs players to ever receive the honour, Dawson was named the 1973 NFL Man of the Year. On May 1st, 1976, he left the field of professional football. In 1979, he was elected to the Chiefs Hall of Fame, and in 1987, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. In 1994 and 1996, respectively, he was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.
During his playing years, Dawson also began a legendary broadcasting career. He was the club’s signal caller in 1966 and also worked as the sports director for KMBC-TV and KMBC-Radio. After the 1975 season, Dawson announced his retirement from professional football. He then joined NBC and worked as a colour analyst for NFL games there until 1982. He then spent 35 years as a member of the Chiefs Radio Network’s colour analyst staff starting in 1984. While working NFL games for NBC, Dawson started what would become a 24-year run as the host of HBO’s well-known “Inside the NFL,” cable television’s longest-running series and the first NFL-related programme to air on cable. This 24-year run spanned four decades (1977–2001).
In 2012, Dawson received the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his contributions to broadcasting. He joined Dan Dierdorf and Frank Gifford as the third person in the annals of professional football to be honoured with both a player and a broadcaster induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
At the 44th Annual NFL 101 Awards in 2014, Dawson received the Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football in recognition of his efforts both on and off the field that helped the National Football League become the premier professional sports league in America. In recognition of Dawson’s accomplishments both on the field and as a broadcaster, the club renamed the television broadcast booth inside GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium the Len Dawson Broadcast Booth in 2017.
In 1957, the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers selected Dawson in the first round of the draught, launching Dawson’s professional career. He later joined Cleveland in 1960 but was released by the Browns before the 1962 campaign, at which point he was signed as a free agent by the Dallas Texans on July 2, 1962. He worked as a quarterback in the NFL/AFL for a total of 19 years.
The native of Alliance, Ohio, played quarterback for the Purdue Boilermakers for three seasons (1955–56), starting every game. He finished his playing days as the school’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns.