HOF Mail Bag - Len Dawson


Len DawsonHi Lenny. I have been a Chiefs fan ever since they moved to K.C. and I had season tickets at Municipal Stadium. What do you think the Chiefs will need to do to beat Denver (on Monday) and are you satisfied with the way the new defensive players are performing so far?P. Bettes

Well first things first, what they need to beat Denver is to play well as a team. I think what they have done is, the biggest problem they’ve had coming into the season is defense everybody knew that. I think that I see more confidence in the defense because they have gotten better each week, and they played well enough last week to win the football game against the Oakland Raiders.

So what they have to do against Denver, I think is, is to stop the running game because Denver in the past has always done a great job of running against the Chiefs defense which opens up the passing game a lot more and brings that safety up close to the line of scrimmage. So defense is a big key.

But on the other side of the ball, Kansas City has had some injuries offensively. Particularly to Willie Roaf and it’s questionable as if he’s going to play or not and if he does play it’s not going to be 100%.  And, they really missed his type of blocking last week against the Oakland Raiders because the running game was virtually shut down by the Raiders. They put a couple of things together but at least I think when they go into Mile High Stadium up in Denver they will have a lot more confidence than they had in the past because I think they’ve lost 4 or 5 games in a row up there.

Len - I was just wondering what of your 19-year career you have kept and cherish the most. I know that your Super Bowl ring is way up there but I’m thinking more of something like maybe your first pro helmet or pair of cleats or something unusual. – Robert Whisenant

Well, I wasn’t a saver.  I wish I had been 30 years ago. I cherish the memories, that’s something I’ll always have with me. And the people that I was associated with and had the opportunity to play with, and the coaching staff. Those are the things that I’ll always cherish. I’ll always cherish Super Bowl IV when we won, because it was such a great team effort and you know, it still lives on today. When I see my ex-teammates, we don’t talk about helmets and cleats, we talk about the good times.

Hank Stram and Len DawsonYou bounced around as a back-up quarterback for the first few years of your career. Did that make it even more special when you achieved stardom and went on to have a Hall of Fame career? - Scott Bressler

Absolutely. I was the number one draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers and spent three years with them before being traded to the Cleveland Browns.
In the five years in the NFL I started two games. I never started and finished a game. I never played two weeks in a row so to get the opportunity.  And that’s all I wanted when I got my release from the Cleveland Browns to go with Hank Stram  and the Dallas Texans in the American Football League. All I wanted was an opportunity to prove, basically to myself, that I was capable of playing with the big guys. Hank Stram was the person that gave me that opportunity and I will forever be grateful.

Hi Len. Who was the best cornerback you ever played against? What made him so good?
- Thanks, Shannon Lo

I played against some of the greatest defensive backs because in the days that I played it was mostly man-to-man coverage and also was bump-and-run coverage all over the field. And I played against I guess some of the great defensive backs, Herb Adderley comes to my mind right away with the Green Bay Packers. I think Mel Renfro of the Dallas Cowboys is another one. Willie Brown  of the Oakland Raiders is another great cornerback. They were tenacious, they were a confident group because they knew they could cover your guy one on one and they were great tacklers too. The cornerback isn’t only a cover guy on passing game but he also has to be able to stop the run as well and those guys were all capable of doing that. And I know I left out a lot of guys that were really great because I played against some of the greatest defensive people that ever played the game.


How did you feel when the Jets won Super Bowl III for the AFL giving the league its first championship over the NFL? Did you feel a burden was on your shoulders the following year in the week leading up to Super Bowl IV before your Chiefs defeated the Vikings to keep the AFL on top? - Carey Lindsay, Brooklyn, NY

Let’s start with the first part. I was in the stands in Miami when the Jets won Super Bowl III against the Baltimore Colts and no one gave the Jets a chance except people who played in the American Football League. I happened to be sitting around in the stands with all these people who worked for the NFL. I don’t know how I got in that section but they were for the NFL and I had to sit there and mind my business while they were proclaiming how great the Baltimore Colts are and they were going to whip the Jets and all that.

Finally in the fourth quarter, after they had badmouthed the American Football League for so long and I said ‘Now how does the American Football League look now?’. So I was ecstatic. I think you have to understand, that the people that played in the American Football League, we played against each other very competitively but we were a family. We were trying to get recognized and I think the Jets started that and I think we finished it.

In Super Bowl IV, I don’t think there was any doubt who was the superior team. After Super Bowl III and the Jets won a lot of the experts said ‘Wow, geez they were lucky, if they played ten times I bet ya the Colts would beat them nine out of those ten times. They just found that one time they won.’ They did not say that after Super Bowl IV because the Chiefs definitely were the better team.

Len DawsonWhy do you think Otis Taylor is not in the Hall of Fame and what will it take to get him there?Tom, long-time Chiefs Fan

Well, first of all, he deserves to be in because when you talk about an era of football players that he played in he was as good, or better than all of them. He was the first, or one of the first big men, I’m saying that he was about 6’3”,215 or 220 pounds with sprinter's speed and just a tremendous athlete.

When you look at Otis Taylor, we didn’t throw the ball that much, we were basically a running team. There were other teams that threw the ball 40 or 50 times a game, we never did that. But you look the year we won the Super Bowl in the playoff game against the Jets, in the championship game against the Raiders, the Super Bowl game against the Vikings, who was the guy that came up with the big catch - Otis Taylor. What’s it going to take him? Well, he’s now in the senior (category) and it makes it much, much more difficult for him to get in.

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