Corridor of fame quarterback and broadcaster Len Dawson dies at age of 87

Corridor of fame quarterback and broadcaster Len Dawson dies at age of 87

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 on Wednesday. He was 87.

Dawson’s household introduced his demise in an announcement by 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 a number of years.

“With spouse Linda at his aspect, it’s with a lot disappointment 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 buddy. Len was at all times grateful and lots of occasions overwhelmed by the numerous bonds he made throughout his soccer and broadcast careers.”

Dawson was the MVP of the Chiefs’ victory over the Vikings in January 1970. He had entered hospice care earlier this month.

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

Dawson personified the Chiefs nearly from the beginning, when he landed with the nascent franchise, then situated in Dallas. There, Dawson reunited with Hank Stram, who had been an assistant when the quarterback had performed at Purdue, and collectively they ceaselessly 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 staff 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 1969, 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’ve been blessed for what I had the chance to do,” Dawson stated informed 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’m grateful for every of them.”

Dawson at all times remained a beloved determine in Kansas Metropolis, and at all times had time for followers, whether or not or not it’s {a photograph} or signature, the latter typically on the well-known black-and-white picture 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 ft. It completely captured a time and place. And it completely captured a person that embodied poise and self-assurance.

“Subsequent to my father, few individuals have had a extra lasting impression on the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs than Len Dawson,” Chiefs proprietor Clark Hunt stated 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 on 20 June 1935, the ninth of 11 kids 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.

Len Dawson leaves the sector after Kansas Metropolis’s loss to Inexperienced Bay within the first Tremendous Bowl. {Photograph}: AP

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

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

With newfound freedom to signal anyplace, Dawson jumped to the upstart AFL and the Dallas Texans, lured partly by the possibility to play for certainly one of his outdated coaches at Purdue. Stram was in a position to lastly faucet into his expertise, serving to Dawson to shortly develop into one of many league’s prolific passers because the Texans went 11-3 and gained the primary of three championships. In 1963, the Texans relocated to Kansas Metropolis and have become generally known as the Chiefs.

The staff’s second title got here in 1966, when Dawson led the Chiefs to an 11-2-1 file and a 31-7 blowout of the Payments within the AFL title sport. 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 probably 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 subsequent 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 stated afterward. “It’s simply, you understand how that aid comes with it’s over with, and we’ve been profitable? That’s 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 information that stood till Patrick Mahomes’ emergence. Dawson hung 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 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, and 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 sport evaluation for NBC from 1977-82 and internet hosting HBO’s Contained in the NFL from 1977-2001. He additionally served greater than three a long time on the Chiefs’ radio broadcast staff.

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

“It’s been a real privilege and honor to have Len on the middle of our broadcast staff for the final 33 years,” stated Dan Israel, the manager producer of the Chiefs’ radio community, upon Dawson’s retirement a couple of years in the past. “His contributions to not solely this sport, however our trade, are extremely profound.”

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

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