HomeBasketballCorridor of Fame Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson dies at 87

Corridor of Fame Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson dies at 87

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Corridor 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 a press release by way of 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 spouse Linda at his aspect, it’s with a lot unhappiness that we inform you of the passing of our beloved Len Dawson,” the household’s assertion learn. “He was a beautiful husband, father, brother and pal. Len was at all times grateful and plenty of occasions overwhelmed by the numerous bonds he made throughout his soccer and broadcast careers.”

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

“He cherished Kansas Metropolis,” his household mentioned, “and irrespective of the place his travels took him he couldn’t wait to return house.”

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 without end modified the franchise.

The coach and quarterback gained the AFL championship collectively in 1962, their first 12 months collectively, and have become bona fide stars the next 12 months, when membership founder Lamar Hunt moved the crew to Kansas Metropolis and rechristened it the Chiefs.

They proceeded to win two extra AFL titles, one in 1966 after 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.

“Trying again on my profession, I have been blessed for what I had the chance to do,” Dawson mentioned advised The Related Press in 2017, shortly after he introduced his retirement from his second profession as a Corridor of Fame broadcaster.

“I couldn’t have achieved a lot with out my teammates and colleagues, and I am grateful for every of them.”

Dawson at all times remained a beloved determine in Kansas Metropolis, regardless 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 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.

“Subsequent to my father, few folks have had a extra lasting affect on the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs than Len Dawson,” Chiefs proprietor Clark Hunt mentioned a couple of years in the past. “Over the course of a legendary profession, first as a participant and later as a broadcaster, Len has been part of each main second in franchise historical past.”

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 Faculty, setting data 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 taking part in protection and kicking, and he helped lead a memorable upset of Notre Dame throughout that 1954 season. By the top of his faculty profession, Dawson had thrown for greater than 3,000 yards, regardless of taking part in 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 didn’t beat out Bobby Layne for he beginning job the next season. The Steelers in the end 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 top-of-the-line 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 prospect to play for one in all his previous coaches at Purdue. Stram was capable of lastly faucet into his expertise, serving to Dawson to shortly grow to be 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 sport. That earned the Chiefs the prospect 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 sector. Dawson led the Chiefs to victories over the defending champion Jets and bitter rival Raiders to achieve 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 mentioned afterward. “It is simply, you know the way that reduction comes with you already know it is over with, and we have been profitable? That is the sensation that I had once I got here off the sector.”

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

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

In 1966, then-Chiefs normal supervisor Jack Steadman wished to drum up assist for the franchise in Kansas Metropolis and satisfied Dawson to anchor a sports activities phase 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 taking part in profession had completed.

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

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

“It has been a real privilege and honor to have Len on the heart of our broadcast crew for the final 33 years,” mentioned Dan Israel, the chief producer of the Chiefs’ radio community, upon his retirement a couple of years in the past. “His contributions to not solely this sport, however our business, are extremely 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 even when Dawson was compelled to enter hospice care.

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