On Wednesday, August 24th, 2022 the legendary and historic Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback, Len Dawson, who led the Kansas City Chiefs to victory in Super Bowl IV, and he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as both a player and broadcaster, has tragically passed away at the age of 87 - years - old, according to his family who has just recently had to notify the public about his death.
"With wife Linda at his side, it is with much sadness that we inform you of the passing of our beloved Len Dawson," the Dawson family explained in a recently released statement to KMBC in Kansas City, Missouri where Len had previously worked as a sports broadcaster. "He was a wonderful husband, father, brother and friend. Len was always grateful and many times overwhelmed by the countless bonds he made during his football and broadcast careers. He loved Kansas City and no matter where his travels took him, he could not wait to return home."
Len had to enter hospice care in Kansas City, Missouri on August 12th, 2022 as he was nearing the end of his amazing life. Dawson worked for the Kansas City Chiefs for close to a half - century (14 - years as their quarterback as well as 33 - years as a sports broadcasting analyst).
The Owner of the Kansas City Chiefs Pays his Respects to Len Dawson
The Kansas City Chiefs’ chairman, Clark Hunt, disclosed that he was truly "heartbroken" about Dawson's recent passing.
"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," Hunt emotionally expressed through a publicly released statement. "I admired Len my entire life -- first as a Hall of Fame player on the field, and later as he transitioned into a successful broadcasting career. Throughout his remarkable career, Len made it a priority to give back to the community that he loved. The franchise has lost a true legend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Linda and his family."
Len spent the initial 5 - years of his 19 - season professional football career as a rarely used back - up quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers as well as the Cleveland Browns, but his pro ball career really took off following him signing in 1962 to play football for the AFL's Dallas Texans franchise (that later on became the Kansas City Chiefs) to play under their head coach, Hank Stram, who was also an assistant coach at Purdue University during Dawson's incredible college football career.
Early Success in AFL
The quarterback that Stram once called, "the most accurate passer in pro football," wasted no time in showing that he was deserving of being a pro football team's starting quarterback, leading the AFL in completion percentage at 61.0 % and earning the 1962 Player of the Year Award honors as Dawson carried the Dallas Texans to the AFL championship title that season.
Following his move to Kansas City, Missouri, the next year, the football team's success continued under Len, who eventually was a 7 - time AFL All - Star / NFL Pro – Bowler, and he was also selected as a First - Team All - Pro 2 - times.
Super Bowl Appearances
During the 1966 – 1967 professional football season, Dawson helped lead the Kansas City Chiefs to once again another AFL championship title, which for the 1st - time resulted in a trip to what would eventually become to be known as the Super Bowl. Len played well as he went 16 - of - 27 for 211 - yards, but unfortunately the Kansas City Chiefs were overmatched and out - played by the Green Bay Packers who were led into battle by their legendary and historic head coach in Vince Lombardi. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs with a final score of 35 - 10 in Super Bowl I.
The Kansas City Chiefs made it back to the Super Bowl just 3 - years later to face - off against the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. Despite Joe Namath and the New York Jets majorly upsetting the Baltimore Colts and Johnny Unitas the season before, the National Football League was still seen as the superior league and the Minnesota Vikings entered Super Bowl IV as the favorite by double - digits.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ defense absolutely dominated in Super Bowl IV, and Len performed extremely well with just another one of his typically strong quarterback play as he went 12 - of - 17 for 142 - passing yards which led to him being named the MVP of Super Bowl IV. Dawson showed off his arm in front of the entire nation by throwing a 46 - yard touchdown pass to Otis Taylor during the third quarter of the big game inevitably sealing the 23 - 7 win for the Kansas City Chiefs earning them 1st - ever Super Bowl victory.
Len was selected as the 2nd - team quarterback, behind Joe Namath, on the AFL's all - time team way back in 1970.
Dominated in the Broadcasting Booth Much Like QB
Dawson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a football player (QB) back in 1987, and he was also inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a sports broadcaster back in 2012, following his TV and radio broadcasting career that started as Len being a leading sports anchor on Kansas City TV back in 1966 while amazingly enough Dawson was still playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, often times going to KMBC following a football practice to broadcast that evening's sports report. Len went on to become a sports analyst for games on NBC as well as a long - time host of HBO's "Inside the NFL."
After a series of various health issues including a fight with prostate cancer as well as a quadruple heart bypass surgery, Len had to retire from broadcasting back in 2017 after 33 - years as the Kansas City Chiefs' radio color analyst.
Dawson remained a beloved and well - known public figure in Kansas City, even though he was forced to cut back on his public appearances several years back when his health began failing him. Len always had time for the loyal fans of Kansas City, whether if it was for a photograph or to give out his signature, the latter often on an iconic black - and - white photo from halftime of that 1st - Super Bowl: the exhausted quarterback, with his white uniform completely caked with mud, sitting on a folding chair with a cigarette in his mouth and a bottle of Fresca down by his feet.
That moment perfectly captured him during a time and place where he was a very big deal, and it perfectly defined the man who personified poise, confidence, and self - assurance.
Len was born on June 20th, 1935 as the 9th of 11 - kids who filled the house of James and Annie Dawson in the blue - collar hard - working manufacturing town of Alliance, Ohio. Dawson was a triple - sport athlete at Alliance High School, where he constantly set records in football and basketball, and he turned his grand success on the football field into a scholarship offer from Purdue University in Indiana.
While at Purdue, Len led the NCAA college football landscape in passing efficiency as a sophomore, and he also played defense and kicked for the team too. Dawson helped lead a memorable major upset of Notre Dame during the 1954 college football season. By the end of his college career, Len had passed for more than 3,000 - yards even though he played during an era that favored a heavy dose of ground - and - pound rushing attack football, and Len was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 1st - round of the 1957 AFL Draft.
He ultimately got his chance to succeed with the Kansas City Chiefs, and when he eventually hung up his cleats and helmet following the 1975 NFL season, Len retired with 28,711 - career passing yards as well as 239 - passing touchdowns. All but 204 - yards and 2 - touchdowns came with the historic and legendary Kansas City Chiefs franchise.
The vast majority of Len's Kansas City Chiefs’ franchise records stood strong until their current Chiefs’ quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, began to start chipping away at them. The two of them became friends quickly, and Dawson was absolutely overjoyed and enthusiastically emotional when Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to their 2nd - ever Super Bowl championship title with the instant classic come - from - behind win against the San Francisco 49ers in February of 2020.
Mahomes took to social media to express his condolences by tweeting, “RIP to the legend Len Dawson. The legacy and impact you made on Kansas City will live on forever. Prayers to his family. 🙏🏽 🙏🏽”
Len was married to his high school sweetheart, Jackie, from 1954 until her inevitable and sad death back in 1978, and together the two of them had 2 - children. His 2nd - wife, Linda, remained by his side when Dawson entered hospice care earlier this month. Dawson will always be forever remembered as one of the great quarterbacks of all - time in both the American Football League as well as the National Football League. Rest in peace Len Dawson.
Football Career Achievements, Honors, & Awards
- Super Bowl Champion (IV)
- Super Bowl MVP Award Winner (IV)
- NFL Man of the Year Award Winner (1973)
- NFL Pro Bowl Selection (1971)
- NFL Completion Percentage Leader (1975)
- 3 - Time AFL Champion (1962, 1966, 1969)
- AFL Championship MVP Award Winner (1966)
- AFL MVP Award Winner (1962)
- 2 - Time First - Team All - AFL Selection (1962, 1966)
- 2 - Time Second - Team All - AFL Selection (1964, 1968)
- 6 - Time AFL All - Star Selection (1962, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969)
- 4 - Time AFL Passing Touchdowns Leader (1962, 1963, 1966, 1967)
- 6 - Time AFL Passer Rating Leader (1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968)
- 7 - Time AFL Completion Percentage Leader (1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969)
- Named to AFL All - Time Team
- Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame Inductee
- Kansas City Chiefs Retired his Jersey Number 16
- Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee
“Hall of Fame QB Len Dawson, who led Kansas City Chiefs to Super Bowl IV win, dies at age 87”, espn.com, Wednesday, August 24, 2022.
“Len Dawson”, pro-football-reference.com, Friday, August 26, 2022.