Legendary Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson dies at 87

Len Dawson
Super Bowl I Green Bay Kansas City 1967
Posted at 7:04 AM, Aug 24, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Len Dawson, the legendary Kansas City Chiefs quarterback who led the team to its first Super Bowl win, died at around 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

He was 87 and had moved to hospice on Aug. 12.

Dawson, who was born in Alliance, Ohio, in 1935, led the Chiefs to three AFL titles (1962, 1966, 1969), including a Super Bowl IV victory against the Minnesota Vikings after the 1969 season.

He played college football at Purdue University, before being drafted fifth overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1957, but it wasn’t until he was signed by the then-Dallas Texans in 1962 that his Hall of Fame career started to take shape.

Dawson followed the team as it moved north to Kansas City, where he would play the rest of his career and also went on to have a Hall of Fame career as a broadcaster.

GALLERY | Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson

During his 14 years with the Texans/Chiefs, Dawson started 157 games, going 93-56-8. He threw for more than 28,000 yards during the span, connecting on 57.2 percent of his passes with 237 touchdowns.

Dawson's 239 career passing touchdowns, which came in an era before the forward pass dominated the game, still rank No. 28 in pro football history.

Dawson led the team to two Super Bowl appearances, a loss to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I, then a win three years later against the Vikings.

Dawson was chosen as the MVP of Super Bowl IV, was selected as the 1973 NFL Man of the Year and won the AFL Championship MVP in 1966.

After Dawson retired from the NFL in 1976, he remained active in sports, serving as the sports director for KMBC-TV in Kansas City. He stayed in that role until his retirement in 2009.

Dawson also was the long-time radio partner for Chiefs play-by-play announcer Mitch Holthus on the team’s radio network.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1987 and won the Hall of Fame's Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award in 2012.

WATCH | Hear from Len Dawson about NFL career

“This is an unbelievable award for me,” Dawson said in a statement at the time of his election as a broadcaster. “To be in the Hall of Fame as a player was the highlight of my playing career, but now to be recognized by the Hall of Fame as a broadcaster, well, it’s just a great, great honor.”

Dawson also served as host for HBO's popular "Inside the NFL" show during his broadcasting career.

After three seasons with the Steelers, Dawson was traded to Cleveland, where he played two seasons before moving on to Dallas/Kansas City.

During his NFL career, Dawson led the AFL in completion percentage seven times (1962, 1964-69) and led the NFL in completion percentage once after the merger (1974).

He also led the AFL in QB rating six times (1962, 1964-68) and led the AFL in touchdown passes four times (1962-63, 1966-67).