Pro football legend , who starred at quarterback for 19 seasons primarily with the , was honored on Thursday as a “Hometown Hall of Famer™" by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company. The event took place at nearby Alliance (Ohio) High School in front of a crowd of 800-plus students, family members and former teammates.
The “Hometown Hall of Famer™” plaque dedication ceremony featured numerous guest speakers including Alliance High School Principal Shawn Jackson; Ted Stefanov, Allstate Insurance representative; and Pro Football Hall of Fame President/Executive Director Steve Perry. Students and other guests heard about Dawson’s accomplishments at Alliance High School and the impact he later made in pro football.
“Passing wasn’t a primary way to move the ball down the field, but Lenny made it THE way to move the ball here at Alliance, a style that made him an all-time elite forward passer in the NFL,” said Perry. “That’s why there’s a practice field here at Alliance High School in his honor, which makes it further fitting that this plaque will be placed here in the lobby by the ticket booth so students, faculty and those in the Alliance community can remember the contributions Len made for years and years to come.”
After the unveiling of the plaque, Dawson shared some of the lessons he learned in the halls of Alliance High School and throughout his career to help the students at Alliance achieve Hall of Fame success in the future.
“Look at me, I never started and finished a game in the first five years of my NFL career,” shared Dawson who was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. “So the advice I have to young students and athletes is to never give up and do the best you can with the opportunities you are presented with. This honor ranks the highest of any I’ve received – to me there’s nothing better.”
In addition to the plaque, a commemorative “Hometown Hall of Famer™” road sign will be on display in the Alliance community.
“To be part of a program that brings the prestige and tradition of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to communities like Alliance is an honor for Allstate, our agents and employees,” said Lisa Cochrane, Allstate’s senior vice president of marketing.
Dawson was a well-rounded athlete, playing basketball, baseball and football at Alliance High School. He was chosen All-Ohio in football in 1952 and All-Ohio in basketball in 1953 before focusing solely on football at Purdue University where he finished his career with a school record at the time of 3,325 passing yards and 29 touchdown passes.
Dawson began his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1957 as the Steelers No. 1 draft pick. After three seasons in which he saw little action, he was dealt to the Cleveland Browns where he spent two years. Then he his career took a turn in the right direction when he signed in 1962 with the Dallas Texas of the upstart American Football League.
The Texans, who became the in Dawson’s second season with the club, became a dominant team of the era led by Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram
. Leading the way was Dawson who earned AFL Player of the Year Award in 1962 while guiding the Texans to an AFL title in his first season with the club.
In all Dawson captured four league passing titles while helping the franchise to three AFL crowns and two Super Bowl appearances. He completed 2,136 of 3,741 passes for 28,711 yards and 239 TDs for a proficient career passer rating of 82.6.
Dawson was named the Most Valuable Player after the Chiefs 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. He was named to six AFL All-Star Games and one AFC-NFC Pro Bowl.
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