KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) — Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson credited him with the undeniable dash that helped the Kansas City Chiefs win their first Super Bowl title. Nicknamed “Lenny the Cool”. He was 87 years old.
Dawson’s family announced his death in a statement through KMBC, a Kansas City-based television station. Dawson had been in declining health for years, but the cause was never determined.
“With my wife Linda by our side, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Len Dawson,” the family said in a statement. He was a friend and a friend who I will always be grateful to and time and time again I am overwhelmed by the countless bonds he has forged throughout his football and broadcasting career.”
Dawson, MVP in the Chiefs’ January 1970 victory over the Vikings, was in hospice care on August 12.
“He loved Kansas City,” said his family.
Dawson personified the Chiefs almost from the beginning when the low-key standout from Purdue lost jobs in Pittsburgh and Cleveland and landed in an early franchise in Dallas. There, Dawson reunited with Hank Strahm, a former boilermaker assistant, and together they changed the franchise forever.
The coach and quarterback won the AFL championship in their first year together in 1962 and became bona fide stars the following year when club founder Lamar Hunt moved the team to Kansas City and renamed it the Chiefs. I was.
They won two more AFL titles. One in 1966 when they lost their first Super Bowl to the Packers, and another in ’69 when Dawson returned from injury to help beat the Vikings at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.
“Looking back at my career, I’ve been blessed with the opportunities I’ve had,” Dawson told the Associated Press shortly after announcing his retirement from his second career as a Hall of Fame caster in 2017. told to
“Without my teammates and colleagues, I would not have been able to achieve so much.
Dawson remained a constant favorite in Kansas City despite curtailing her public appearances when her health began failing a few years ago. But he always made time for his fans, whether it was for pictures or signatures. The latter was often the iconic black-and-white photo of the first Super Bowl halftime. He has a cigarette in his mouth and a bottle of Fresca at his feet.
Perfectly captured the time and place. And it perfectly captured the man who embodies poise and confidence.
Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said years ago, “No one has had a more lasting impact on the Kansas City Chiefs than my father, Len Dawson.” First as a player, later as a broadcaster. , over the course of his legendary career, Ren has been a part of every major moment in franchise history.”
Dawson was born on June 20, 1935, the ninth of 11 children who filled the home of James and Annie Dawson in the blue-collar manufacturing town of Alliance, Ohio. An athlete in his three sports at Alliance High School, he set records in both football and basketball, turning his football success into a scholarship offer from Purdue University.
There, Dawson led the NCAA in passing efficiency as a sophomore, also played defense and kicking, and helped lead Notre Dame’s memorable upset during that 1954 season. By the end of his college career, Dawson was throwing for over 3,000 yards, even though he was playing ground and pound in an era when his football was favored.
Dawson was selected by the Steelers in the first round of the 1957 draft, but as a rookie he ended up on the bench behind Earl Morrall, unable to beat Bobby Laine, who started the job the following season. was. The Steelers eventually traded him to the Browns, but Dawson failed to beat Milt Plum for the job and was released.
One of Dawson’s major disappointments in his career turned out to be one of his best ever.
With his newfound freedom to sign anywhere, Dawson dove into the upstart AFL and Texans. This was in part because he was drawn to the opportunity to play under one of his former coaches at Purdue University. Strum was finally able to capitalize on his talents, and Dawson quickly became one of the league’s prolific passers when the Texans won his 11-3 victory, becoming the first winner of three championships. Helped me become one.
The second was in 1966, when Dawson beat the Chiefs 11-2-1 and the Bills 31-7 for the AFL title. That gave the Chiefs a chance to face the powerhouse Green Bay Packers and coach Vince Lombardi in Super Bowl 1. Dawson threw for 210 yards and had one touchdown in a 35–10 loss.
However, it was the 1969 season that proved to be the most memorable of Dawson’s career. He suffered a serious knee injury in Week 2 against the Patriots, forcing him to miss the next five games, but he was in tears when he returned to the field. Dawson led the Chiefs to victory over the defending champion Jets and bitter rivals the Raiders, the AFL and he reached the final Super Bowl before the NFL merger.
“I was overwhelmed,” Dawson said later. “But do you know how that relief comes and you know it’s over? That’s what it feels like when you leave the field.”
Dawson went on to play six more seasons with Kansas City, setting many franchise records until a youngster named Patrick Mahomes came along and put on the helmet after the 1975 season.
In the process, Dawson repurposed what began as a publicity stunt into a second career in broadcasting.
In 1966, then-Chiefs general manager Jack Steadman, wanting to garner support for the franchise in Kansas City, persuaded Dawson to anchor the sports segment on the nightly news. and folk style made Dawson a natural. He turned his attention to television and radio full-time after his playing career ended.
Dawson continued working on local television for decades, adding game analysis for NBC from 1977-82 and hosting HBO’s iconic “Inside the NFL” from 1977-2001. He also served on the Chiefs’ radio broadcasting team for over 30 years.
After being inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1987, Dawson joined the broadcaster in 2012.
Chiefs radio network executive producer Dan Israel said when he retired several years ago, “It’s been a true privilege to have Wren at the heart of our broadcast team for the past 33 years. “His contribution, not just to this sport, but to our industry, is incredibly deep.”
Dawson was married to his high school sweetheart, Jackie, from 1954 until her death in 1978, with whom he had two children. Even when Dawson was forced into hospice care, his second wife, Linda, was by his side.
Hall of Fame Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson dies at 87
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