Len Dawson, the Corridor of Fame quarterback who spent his first 5 professional soccer seasons as a seldom-used backup however went on to take Kansas Metropolis to its first Tremendous Bowl championship, died on Wednesday. He was 87.
His loss of life was introduced by his household in an announcement. Dawson had lately entered hospice care on the College of Kansas Medical Middle in Kansas Metropolis, Kan.
Dawson, who performed professionally for 19 seasons, 13 of them in Kansas Metropolis, was often known as Lenny the Cool. A slender 6 foot 1 and 190 kilos, on the smallish facet even for his period, he performed with little seen emotion. However he was a pinpoint passer who appeared impervious to strain and a six-time All-Star within the outdated American Soccer League.
Hank Stram, the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs’ longtime coach, who gave Dawson an opportunity to be a starter within the A.F.L. after his sad time with the N.F.L.’s Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns, as soon as referred to as him “probably the most correct passer in professional soccer.”
Dawson was a quiet kind who led by instance. “I’ve by no means heard him increase his voice,” the Kansas Metropolis guard Ed Budde as soon as stated. “While you do one thing mistaken, he simply provides you that look and you recognize you had higher form up.”
He was finest remembered for getting back from a severe knee harm to take the Chiefs to a surprising 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Tremendous Bowl IV in January 1970 — the staff’s solely Tremendous Bowl championship till 2020.
As that recreation neared, Dawson had confronted strain to show he was in prime form after lacking 5 midseason video games due to his dangerous knee. However one other burden shadowed him as nicely.
NBC had reported that the federal authorities wished Dawson, Joe Namath of the Jets and several other different professional soccer gamers to look earlier than a federal grand jury in reference to a string of New 12 months’s Day arrests of reputed gamblers in a nationwide sports activities betting ring. The Justice Division didn’t verify the report, however Dawson, whereas denying any connection to playing, informed reporters that he had a “informal acquaintanceship” with one of many males who had been arrested.
Seemingly unfazed by the headlines, Dawson closed out the Tremendous Bowl scoring by combining with receiver Otis Taylor on a 46-yard third-quarter landing play within the face of a blitz. He was named the sport’s most beneficial participant and acquired a congratulatory cellphone name from President Richard M. Nixon. The gamers cited within the NBC report have been by no means accused of wrongdoing.
Namath had taken the Jets of the A.F.L. to a surprising 16-7 victory over the Baltimore Colts within the 1969 Tremendous Bowl. That upset was a prelude to the Chiefs’ championship victory, which cemented the league’s credibility previous the completion of the A.F.L.-N.F.L. merger.
“That was big for us,” Dawson informed The Instances-Picayune of New Orleans lengthy afterward. “We have been the not-ready-for-prime-time guys from the A.F.L., and we made it two in a row.”
Leonard Ray Dawson was born on June 25, 1935, in Alliance, Ohio, the ninth of 11 youngsters of James and Annie Dawson. His father labored for a machine firm.
He turned a star quarterback for Purdue when Stram was an assistant coach with the Boilermakers, then was chosen by the Steelers within the first spherical of the 1957 N.F.L. draft. However he was a backup in his three seasons with them and two seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
He thought of quitting soccer after the 1961 season, however Stram — who had turn into the pinnacle coach of the Dallas Texans, one of many A.F.L.’s eight authentic groups — wished him. “He mainly stated, ‘In the event you ever get free, let me know. I’d like to have you ever on my staff,’” Dawson as soon as informed The Springfield Information-Chief of Missouri. Dawson requested the Browns to place him on waivers, and the Texans claimed him.
Dawson took the Texans to their first A.F.L. championship in 1962, the league’s third season, with a 20-17 victory over the Houston Oilers in double time beyond regulation. He was named the league’s participant of the yr. Lamar Hunt, the Texans’ proprietor, moved the staff to Kansas Metropolis for the 1963 season, renaming it the Chiefs, and Dawson took the staff to an A.F.L. title in 1966, although they misplaced to the Inexperienced Bay Packers, 35-10, within the first Tremendous Bowl.
“You’ll by no means have heard of my title if it hadn’t been for Lamar Hunt hiring Hank Stram,” Dawson as soon as informed The Kansas Metropolis Star.
Dawson, who retired after the 1975 season, threw for 239 profession touchdowns and 28,711 yards. He led the A.F.L. in landing passes 4 instances and in passing completion share six instances. He was elected to the Corridor of Fame in 1987.
Survivors embrace his second spouse, Linda. He had two youngsters, Lisa Anne and Len Jr., together with his first spouse, Jackie, who died in 1978. Full data on survivors was not instantly out there.
Dawson was a longtime radio analyst for Kansas Metropolis video games and a tv broadcaster for NBC and HBO. The Corridor of Fame introduced him with its Pete Rozelle Radio-Tv award in 2012.
He seemed again wryly on the beginning of his broadcasting profession, when he reported on sports activities for KMBC tv and radio in Kansas Metropolis within the evenings whereas he was nonetheless taking part in.
“The Chiefs beneficial me,” he as soon as stated. “They felt if they’d one among their individuals on the sports activities at 10, there can be one station not ripping the soccer staff.”
Dawson was a signature determine in staff’s historical past. “We began calling him the Governor,” his former teammate Emmitt Thomas informed The Star in 2013. “To today, I name him Governor. He was the man right here in Kansas Metropolis.”