Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Hall of Fame Kansas City quarterback Len Dawson dies at 87 CBC Sports

Whether it was during the early days of the AFL or behind the microphone as the NFL evolved into the behemoth today, Len Dawson carried himself with an unmistakable swagger and self-assurance that earned him the well-worn nickname “Lenny ” Earned. cold.”

He was a Hall of Fame quarterback who led Kansas City to its first Super Bowl championship, then a Hall of Fame broadcaster who brought football into the homes of millions on the iconic HBO show “Inside the NFL.”

Team owner Clark Hunt said: “Lane was my first sports hero and he continues to be someone I’ve admired and respected for the rest of my life.” “His Impact on Kansas City [organization] And everyone who has worked for the organization cannot be overstated.”

Dawson’s family announced his death on Wednesday at the age of 87. No cause was given, although Dawson had had prostate cancer and quadruple heart bypass surgery over the years. He was in hospice care since August 12.

Hunt said the team intends to honor Dawson during their pre-season finale against Green Bay on Thursday night, though details are still to be decided. Other memorials will be arranged as per the wishes of his family.

“With wife Linda, it is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of our beloved Lane Dawson,” his family said in a statement released by KMBC, the TV station where he served as an anchor was. “Lane was always grateful and at times overwhelmed by the countless bonds he created during his football and broadcasting careers.”

3 AFL titles, Super Bowl triumph

Dawson’s career was going nowhere when he joined the Hunt family’s nascent AFL franchise, which was then based in Dallas. But with Hall of Fame coach Hank Strom, Dawson made it to three AFL titles and two Super Bowls; Kansas City would lose to Green Bay in the opening three years later, before defeating Minnesota at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.

He was the MVP of that 23–7 victory over the Vikings in January 1970, then went on to set several franchise records now surpassed only by Patrick Mahomes. Dawson was inducted as a player at Canton in 1987, then received the Pete Rozelle Radio-television Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

“I am blessed to have the opportunity to do what I have,” Dawson told The Associated Press in 2017. “I couldn’t have achieved so much without my teammates and allies, and I’m grateful for each and every one of them.”

Len Dawson walks through practice with his receivers in New Orleans in preparation for the Super Bowl against the Minnesota Vikings in January 1970. (AP)

Dawson remained a loved one in Kansas City even as his health declined and he cut back on public appearances. He used to go out of his way to make time for fans, be it a picture or a signature. The latter was often sketched on a seminal picture from the halftime of the first Super Bowl: the exhausted quarterback, the white uniform covered in haystack, sitting in a folding chair with a cigarette in his mouth and a bottle of Fresca at his feet.

It perfectly captured a time and place. And it captured “Lenny the Cool” perfectly.

“He was always in control,” Straum recalled years later. “I told him once, ‘Leonard, make sure you never let him see you sweat.’ And they said, ‘Coach, quarterbacks don’t sweat. Quarterbacks sweat.’

Sophisticated yet blue-collar to his origins, Dawson was born on June 20, 1935, the ninth of 11 children to James and Annie Dawson in the Alliance’s manufacturing city, Ohio. He was a three-sport athlete at Alliance High School, setting records in both football and basketball, but turning his attention to the gridiron with a scholarship to Purdue.

Dawson led the NCAA in passing proficiency as a sophomore while playing defense and kicking. And by the end of his college career, he had thrown more than 3,000 yards in an era defined by ground-and-pound football.

He was selected by the Steelers in the first round of the 1957 draft, but was injured while riding the bench behind Earl Morall as a rookie and then failed to defeat Bobby Layne at the start of the next season. When the Steelers trade him to the Browns, Dawson was unable to defeat Milt Plum for the job and was summarily released.

With a sudden freedom to play anywhere, Dawson leapt to the upstart AFL and the Texans, lured by the chance to play for one of his old Purdue coaches. It was Straum who managed to harness his talent, helping Dawson to become one of the league’s prolific passers, as the Texans went 11-3 in 1962 and won the first of three titles at once.

face the mighty packers

The second came in 1966, when Dawson beat Kansas City to an 11-2-1 record and a 31-7 blow to the Bills in the AFL title game. This gave Kansas City the opportunity to face coach Vince Lombardi’s powerhouse Packers in the inaugural Super Bowl, where Dawson threw for 210 yards and scored a touchdown in a 35–10 loss.

It was the 1969 season, which however proved to be the most memorable of Dawson’s career. He hurt his knee against the Patriots in Week 2, forcing him to miss the next five games, but to reach the final Super Bowl before the AFL–NFL merger of Kansas City over the defending champion Jets and rival Raiders. returned to lead.

“It was overwhelming,” Dawson said after the win over Minnesota. “It’s just, you know how this relief comes with you now, and we’ve been successful? That was the feeling when I came off the field.”

Dawson played six more seasons in Kansas City, setting several records that remained until Mahomes came along. The two became fast friends, and Dawson was overjoyed when the young quarterback propelled Kansas City to their second Super Bowl title in February 2020 with a behind-the-scenes win over the 49ers.

“Rip to legend Lane Dawson,” Mahomes tweeted on Wednesday, along with photos of him. “The legacy and impact you have made on Kansas City will live on forever.”

While many fans know Dawson for his playing days, others think first about his career in broadcasting. It began as a publicity stunt in 1966, when then-Kansas City general manager Jack Steadman was trying to build local support for the team. Steadman persuaded Dawson to anchor a nightly sports segment on TV, and his charisma and charming charm made him a natural.

After his playing days ended, Dawson turned to broadcasting full-time, working in local TV and doing national sports analysis for NBC. But he’s perhaps best known for his groundbreaking work with Nick Buoniconti on the HBO staple “Inside the NFL,” helping the burgeoning league reach millions of fans.

Dawson served on Kansas City’s radio broadcast team for more than three decades before retiring in 2018.

Kansas City coach Andy Reid said at the time, “I did all those games with him and I think he has a world.” “He’s been there, he’s done it — it doesn’t matter the age difference or the time gap. He just gets it. I love that part of it. He’s a Hall of Famer all the way around.”

Dawson was married to his high school sweetheart, Jackie, from 1954 until his death in 1978, and had two children, Lisa and Lane Jr. Dawson’s second wife, Linda, remained with him after he entered hospice care.

“Lane was really the first big sports personality in Kansas City,” Hunt said. “He was the undisputed leader of the team that won the Super Bowl, and I think not only me but anyone who cheered for the team during that era has a very good memory and a very special bond with him.” Is.”

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