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'He was an icon': Chiefs Radio Network colleagues speak on Len Dawson's impact

Len Dawson died Wednesday morning at the age of 87
Len Dawson at Hall of Fame
Posted at 7:01 PM, Aug 24, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Legendary Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson died Wednesday morning, and his impact reached many people, including former Chiefs Radio Network broadcaster Kendall Gammon and the current executive producer of the Chiefs Radio Network, Dan Israel.

Dawson died at the age of 87.

Israel described hearing the news of Dawson's death for the first time.

"In a situation where we knew this was imminent, and we've known this is coming, you'd like to think you're prepared, but the loss is a little tougher to take," Israel said. "The finality of it all, it's difficult. He was a special guy."

Gammon spoke on Dawson's impact on not just the Chiefs and the Kansas City area, but the NFL overall.

"He was an icon," Gammon said. "He was somebody that Kansas City and the Chiefs and the NFL in general identified with."

Gammon, a former Pro Bowler, worked for the Chiefs Radio Network from 2008-2020.

He has fond memories of working with Dawson at the network.

"When I was brought on the Chiefs Radio Network, I came on to do a pregame show on [the] radio before we'd even done any games and he was good with me," Gammon said.

Gammon had interacted with Dawson before landing the job at the network because of his time as a player for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The team drafted Dawson in the 1950's and Gammon decades later.

"For whatever reason, and I think it was because I had played at Pittsburgh, and then also I threw a ball, although upside down as he would like to say," Gammon said. "But he was good to me on the team planes. And he would say, "Hello," and I think it was because he spent time in Pittsburgh and knew I came from there originally with the Steelers. So I was just fortunate. He was good to me for whatever reason."

Israel was amazed to be in the same room as the Hall of Fame quarterback for the first time.

"Anytime you meet somebody who's a celebrity the size of Len Dawson for the first time, you're always a little starstruck," Israel said. "I mean, here I was getting thrown into the deep end of the pool working right next to the man. But it did not take very long before I realized why Len Dawson was Len Dawson. He was a special individual."

On the day before Super Bowl 50 in 2020, while Dawson was doing promotional appearances, a man walked up and asked Dawson to take a picture with him.

The man in the photograph with Dawson turned out to be Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jon Bon Jovi.

Dawson, however, didn't recognize the Bon Jovi frontman and told him he was more of a Tony Bennett kind of guy.

"To this day, I don't think Len ever knew who Jon Bon Jovi was," Israel said.

Dawson had a unique career as a broadcaster, becoming the sports director for KMBC-TV in Kansas City while still playing pro football.

Gammon put Dawson's rare path as a broadcaster in perspective.

"That's like saying that Patrick Mahomes, after he got done with the game or got done with practice, he couldn't hang with the guys because he had to go get a camera crew ready and get his mic and go interview people," Gammon said. "It's just hard for this generation, even the last generation, to fathom, but he did it. And let's make no mistake, he did it very, very well."

According to Israel, Dawson "never really pulled his punches" as a broadcaster, but was still professional and respectful toward the organization he helped to great success.

Gammon put Dawson's impact on the Chiefs' organization in simple terms.

"He is the Kansas City Chiefs."