Len Dawson

Quarterback

Len Dawson

19 seasons
28,711 yards
239 TDs
6 AFL All-Star Games
1 Pro Bowl
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19

seasons

28,711

yards

239

TDs

6

AFL All-Star Games

1

Pro Bowl
View full stats

"I guess the main reason is I always wanted to do it. I enjoy doing it. I enjoy the competitiveness of it. I enjoy the money we make.”

Read Len Dawson's Bio

(Purdue)...6'0'', 190...Leonard Ray Dawson. . .Pittsburgh's No. 1 draft pick, 1957 . . .Led 1962 Texans, 1966, 1969 Chiefs to AFL titles. . .AFL Player of Year, 1962. . . Won four AFL passing crowns. . . MVP, Super Bowl IV. . . Selected to six AFL All-Star games, 1972 Pro Bowl. . .Pin-point passer, astute field general. . . Career passing stats: 28,711 yards, 239 touchdowns, 82.6 rating. . .Rushed for 1,293 yards, 9 TDs. . . Born June 20, 1935, in Alliance, Ohio.

BIO

Len Dawson Kansas City Chiefs & Pittsburgh Steelers & Dallas Texans (NFL) & Cleveland Browns

"I guess the main reason is I always wanted to do it. I enjoy doing it. I enjoy the competitiveness of it. I enjoy the money we make.”

Although Len Dawson ranks among the elite forward passers of all time with an 82.56 rating compiled over 19 seasons of pro play, he is perhaps best remembered for his courageous performance in leading the Chiefs to a 23-7 upset of the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. Dawson connected on 12 of 17 passes for 142 yards in the now-historic game, and his 46-yard pass completion to Otis Taylor wrapped up the surprise victory that evened the AFL-NFL portion of the Super Bowl series at two wins each. Dawson was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

A No. 1 draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1957, the former Purdue sharp-shooter struggled through five seasons as a seldom-used backup with the Steelers and the Cleveland Browns before finding his niche with the Dallas Texans of the American Football League in 1962. He paced the Texans, who became the Kansas City Chiefs the next year, to their first AFL championship in a double overtime victory over the Houston Oilers. He was also the chief architect of Kansas City titles in both 1966 and 1969 that led to his participation in Super Bowls I and IV.

Noted for his calm, poised approach to every situation, the 6-0, 190-pound Dawson was often lauded by his coach, Hank Stram, as "the most accurate passer in pro football." His record adds credence to that contention. Dawson, who was born June 20, 1935, in Alliance, Ohio, won four AFL individual passing crowns in 1962, 1964, 1966 and 1968.

He was selected to play in six AFL All-Star games and the 1972 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl. An All-AFL selection in both 1962 and 1966, he was named the AFL Player of the Year in 1962. During his career, he completed 2,136 of 3,741 passes for 28,711 yards and 239 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,293 yards before retiring after the 1975 season.

STATS

Len Dawson's Stats

Year Team
G
Att
Comp
Pct
Yds
TD
Int
Rating
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
1957 Pittsburgh
3
4
2
50
25
0
0
69.8
3
31
10.3
0
1958 Pittsburgh
4
6
1
16.7
11
0
2
0
2
-1
-0.5
0
1959 Pittsburgh
12
7
3
42.9
60
1
0
113.1
4
20
5
0
1960 Cleveland
2
13
8
61.5
23
0
0
65.9
1
0
0
0
1961 Cleveland
7
15
7
46.7
85
1
3
47.2
1
-10
-10
0
1962 Dallas (AFL)
14
310
189
61
2759
29
17
98.3
38
252
6.6
3
1963 Kansas City
14
352
190
54
2389
26
19
77.5
37
272
7.4
2
1964 Kansas City
14
354
199
56.2
2879
30
18
89.9
40
89
2.2
2
1965 Kansas City
14
305
163
53.4
2262
21
14
81.3
43
142
3.3
2
1966 Kansas City
14
284
159
56
2527
26
10
101.7
24
167
7
0
1967 Kansas City
14
357
206
57.7
2651
24
17
83.7
20
68
3.4
0
1968 Kansas City
14
224
131
58.5
2109
17
9
98.6
20
40
2
0
1969 Kansas City
9
166
98
59
1323
9
13
69.9
1
3
3
0
1970 Kansas City
14
262
141
53.8
1876
13
14
71
11
46
4.2
0
1971 Kansas City
14
301
167
55.5
2504
15
13
81.6
12
24
2
0
1972 Kansas City
14
305
175
57.4
1835
13
12
72.8
15
75
5
0
1973 Kansas City
8
101
66
65.3
725
2
5
72.4
6
40
6.7
0
1974 Kansas City
14
235
138
58.7
1573
7
13
65.8
11
28
2.5
0
1975 Kansas City
12
140
93
66.4
1095
5
4
90
5
7
1.4
0
Career Total
211
3741
2136
57.1
28,711
239
183
82.6
294
1293
4.4
9
 
Additional Statistics: Scoring: 9 TD, 0-1 FG, 0-2 XP



CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES

Len Dawson's Championship Games

Championship Games

1962 AFLDallas Texans 20, Houston Oilers 17 (OT)
Dawson started at quarterback. He completed 9 of 14 passes for 88 yards and one touchdown. Dawson also had five rushes for 26 yards.

1966 AFLKansas City Chiefs 31, Buffalo Bills 7
Dawson started at quarterback. He completed 16 of 24 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Dawson also had five rushes for 26 yards.

1969 AFLKansas City Chiefs 17, Oakland Raiders 7
Dawson started at quarterback. He completed 7 of 17 passes for 129 yards. Dawson also had three rushes for six yards.

Super Bowls

Super Bowl I – Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10
Dawson started at quarterback. He completed 16 of 26 passes for 211 yards, one TD and one interception. He also had three rushes for 24 yards.

Super Bowl IVKansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7
Dawson started at quarterback. He completed 12 of 17 passes for 142 yards, one TD and one interception. He also had three rushes for 11 yards. He was named the game's Most Valuable Player.



CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Len Dawson's Career Highlights

 

 

All-AFL: 1962 (AP, UPI, OL) • 1966 (AP, UPI, OL, NEA, NY)

 

 

All-AFL Second Team: 1964 (AP, UPI, OL, NEA, NY) • 1965 (NEA ) • 1968 (AP, UPI)

All-AFC Second Team: 1971 (UPI)

(7) – 1963, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970*, 1972

* Did not play

(at time of his retirement following 1975 season)

• [1st] Most Fumbles, Game – 7 (vs. San Diego, Nov. 15, 1964)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Seasons Leading League, Touchdown Passes – 4 (1962-63, 1965-66)
• [2nd] Most Seasons Leading League, Passing – 4 (1962, 1964, 1966, 1968)
• [2nd] Highest Passing Completion Percentage, Career – 57.10
• [2nd] Highest Passing Completion Percentage, Season – 66.43 (1975)
• [Tied for 2nd] Fewest Passing Interceptions, Season – 4 (1975)
• [3rd] Most Seasons – 19
• [3rd] Most Fumbles, Career – 84
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Consecutive Passes Completed – 15 (vs. Houston, Dec. 20, 1964)
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Fumbles, Season – 15 (1964)
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Fumbles Recovered, Career – 32
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Own Fumbles Recovered, Career – 32

Super Bowl Records

• [1st] Highest Passing Completion Percentage, Career – 63.6
• [2nd] Most Passing Completions, Career – 28
• [2nd] Most Pass Yards Gained, Career – 353

AFC/AFL Championship Records

• [1st] Highest Passing Completion Percentage, Career – 58.2
• [1st] Highest Passing Completion Percentage, Game – 66.7 (vs. Buffalo, 1966)
• [1st] Fewest Passing Interceptions, Career (50 attempts) – 0

AFC Divisional Playoff Records

• [Tied for 1st] Most Passes Intercepted, Career – 6

Chiefs' records held by Dawson
(Records through the 1975 season, Dawson's final season with Kansas City)

• [1st] Most Seasons – 14
• [1st] Most Total Yards Offense, Game – 448 (435 passing, 13 rushing – vs. Denver, Nov. 1, 1964)
• [1st] Most Total Yards Offense, Season – 448 (2759 passing, 252 rushing – 1962)
• [1st] Most Seasons Leading League, Passing – 4 (1962, 1964, 1966, 1968)
• [1st] Most Passing Attempts, Career – 3,696
• [1st] Most Passing Attempts, Season – 379 (1961)
• [1st] Most Passing Attempts, Game – 46 (vs. Buffalo ,Oct. 13, 1963)
• [1st] Most Passing Completions, Career – 2,115
• [1st] Most Passing Completions, Season – 206 (1967)
• [1st] Most Passing Completions, Game – 26 (vs. San Diego, Nov. 10, 1974)
• [1st] Most Consecutive Passes Completed – 15 (vs. Houston, Dec. 20, 1964)
• [1st] Highest Passing Completion Percentage, Career – 57.10
• [1st] Most Passing Yards, Career – 28,507
• [1st] Most Passing Yards, Season – 2,879 (1964)
• [1st] Most Passing Yards, Game – 435 (vs. Denver, Nov. 1, 1964)
• [1st] Most Passing Touchdowns, Career – 237
• [1st] Most Passing Touchdowns, Season – 30 (1964)
• [1st] Most Passing Touchdowns, Game – 6 (vs. Denver, Nov. 1, 1964)
• [1st] Most Seasons Leading League, Touchdown Passes – 4 (1962-63, 1965-66)
• [1st] Most Passing Interceptions, Career – 178
• [Tied for 1st] Most Passing Interceptions, Game – 5 (vs. Oakland, Nov. 23, 1969)

 

League Statistical Championships
Passing Titles: 1962, 1964, 1968

AFC Statistical Championships
Passing Titles: 1962, 1964, 1966, 1968
Passing Touchdown Leader: 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966

Team Statistical Championships
Passing Titles: 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975

• Super Bowl IV MVP
• 1969 AFL All-Star Game, Outstanding Offensive Player
• 1973 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year

Year Team W L T Division Finish
1957 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 6 0 (3rd)
1958 Pittsburgh Steelers 7 4 1 (3rd)
1959 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 5 1 (4th)
1960 Cleveland Browns 8 3 1 (2nd)
1961 Cleveland Browns 8 5 1 (3rd)
1962 Dallas Texans 11 3 0 (1st)
1963 Kansas City Chiefs 5 7 2 (3rd)
1964 Kansas City Chiefs 7 7 0 (2nd)
1965 Kansas City Chiefs 7 5 2 (1st)
1966 Kansas City Chiefs 11 2 1 (1st)
1967 Kansas City Chiefs 9 5 0 (2nd)
1968 Kansas City Chiefs 12 2 0 (2nd)
1969 Kansas City Chiefs 11 3 0 (2nd)
1970 Kansas City Chiefs 7 5 2 (2nd)
1971 Kansas City Chiefs 10 3 1 (1st)
1972 Kansas City Chiefs 8 6 0 (2nd)
1973 Kansas City Chiefs 7 5 2 (2nd)
1974 Kansas City Chiefs 5 9 0 (3rd)
1975 Kansas City Chiefs 5 9 0 (3rd)

CAREER CAPSULE

Len Dawson's Career Capsule

Full Name: Leonard Ray Dawson

Birthdate: June 20, 1935

Birthplace: Alliance, Ohio

High School: Alliance (OH)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 24, 1987

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 8, 1987

Presenter: Hank Stram, Dawson's head coach with Chiefs

Other Members of Class of 1987: Larry Csonka, Joe Greene, John Henry Johnson, Jim Langer, Don Maynard, Gene Upshaw

Pro Career: 19 seasons, 211 games

Drafted: 1st round (5th overall) by Pittsburgh Steelers

Uniform Number: 16, (18)



ENSHRINEMENT SPEECH

Len Dawson Enshrinement speech

Pro Football Hall of Fame
August 8, 1987


Hank Stram (presenter):
Thank you very much. You know I first met Lenny Dawson 35 years ago when I was a baseball coach and assistant football coach at Purdue University Len was a senior at Alliance High School just 20 miles from this Hall of Fame. He was All-State Quarterback and All-State basketball player, baseball player and an excellent student. Len was shy and he was quiet. He had an era of confidence and poise that was very, very contagious. He was also very unpredictable because you never knew what his play selection would be or how he would respond to a very simple question. It was at this point that he visited our campus and saw our highlight “passing rear." After seeing this film guess what he said? “Didn’t your quarterback ever throw an incomplete forward pass?” Two years later, Lenny was a sophomore, we opened the season against Missouri and one of our coaches said "Lenny, good luck in your first convincing game for Purdue University" Lenny said, "thank you coach but you don't need luck, all you need is ability.” And he proceeded to throw 4 touchdown passes and won with a 30-0 upset over Missouri. The following week he threw 4 more touchdown passes against Notre Dame in a game that we won 28-14. He went on to be our captain. Led the Big-10 in passing and total offense for three consecutive years and was an All-American his senior year. Then he was the No. 1 draft choice for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1957. But after three years, he was traded to the Cleveland Browns. He played in the NFL for five years and only threw 45 passes. In 1962 I met Lenny in Pittsburgh with our dear friend, Joe Rittman. We discussed the possibility of Lenny playing for our team the Dallas Texans of the AFL. He liked the idea and went to Paul Brown and asked to be put on waivers so he could play for our team. Paul was kind enough to oblige. Lenny joined our team and won the starting job and led us to an AFL championship, was Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player and made the All-AFL team. This acquisition was really the turning point for our franchise.

When I think of Lenny, I think of family because I knew him way before I had a family. As my wife, Phyllis often said that I spent more time with him than I did with our own family of six. You know, she was probably right. When I think of Lenny I also think of honor, I think of class, I think of style, I think of grace, and I think of dignity. When I think of Lenny I think of winning because he played a dominate role in helping us become the winningest team in the history of the American League. We won four championships, a Super Bowl and every big name there was to win in professional football. When I think of Lenny I think of leadership because he was a natural leader. He was captain of his Alliance football team, Purdue, the Dallas Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs. He led by example and the bigger the game, the better he played. He was our man of the moment. When I think of Lenny, I think of consistency. He was always the same; he never let you see him sweat. That's why his teammates called him Lenny the Cool and he completed over 57% of his passes, over a 19 year span of time. That is hard to do in the pre-game warm up. Greatness is measured by the test of time and Lenny passed that test with flying colors. I am very proud and honored that I have had this opportunity to introduce Lenny Dawson into the Pro Football's Hall of Fame. Lenny, your lovely wife, Linda, little Lenny, Lisa and your family; Lamar and all the Chiefs, Kansas City, Alliance and your many fans around the country and any person who had anything to do with the AFL, swell with pride over the honor that is yours today. Thank you very much.

Len Dawson:
Wow!! Thank you very much. Coach, I think we are going to destroy the very first thing you said about Lenny does not sweat and believe me even though it is warm out here, I am as quarterbacks call it, perspiring, other people would call it sweat. This is something. Everyone has asked me how do you feel, how will you feel when you get in front of the microphone to address the people and I actually did not know. They said what are you going to say. Well, there are some points I want to say, but I said if I could do it, if I could spit it out.

Bobby Mitchell told me the very first time he saw me in Hawaii when they announced I was going to be in the Hall of Fame, he said Len, I'm going to watch you melt. He said no matter how hard you try you still can't help it. You know it is interesting isn't it, Fawcett Stadium, for me this is where it all began. A complete cycle. But you don't get up here by yourself, you don't do it alone, you need an awful lot of help. And I have been very, very fortunate. I am the seventh son of a seventh son. And all my life they said hey, that's great, that's good luck. But I am here to attest that is definitely very,very fortunate. As I said you can't do it without people. Larry was talking about his coaches, I go back to my original coaches of my family, to my brothers and sisters and how they worked with me as a youngster to get me interested in sports, to teach me the value of sports and what it can do. My two older brothers worked with me when I was 9 and 10 years old. They taught me things that had lasted me throughout my entire athletic career. They took an interest in me.
 
Then on to high school. As you knew I am from Alliance, Ohio just down the road where Mel Knowlton started me on my way to become a football player and an accomplished one because he taught me the fundamentals necessary to play the game and I will be forever grateful for Mel Knowlton. Purdue University with Steve Holcomb, Jack Mulenkoff, and Hank Stram, I was fortunate there to be surrounded by great coaches. I don't know of anyone else who had that opportunity. At Pittsburgh it was Buddy Harper, at Cleveland it was the great Paul Brown so I've been surrounded by great people who helped me along the way.

Then there was a league called the American Football League. In 1960-61 I had completed five years in the NFL and that was about the time you started building the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And I am sure if anyone would have asked at that time, "don't you think Len Dawson might one day be here?" After they got up off the floor from laughing, they would say why should he be, what has he done. But I am the seventh son of a seventh son. Things happen to me. A man in Dallas, Texas by the name of Lamar Hunt had a dream. He wanted to get in professional football in a league called the AFL. And he had the good sense to hire Hank Stram as the coach. Hank Stram knew me at Purdue, as he said he recruited me out of Alliance High School, to attend Purdue University and that was my saving grace. Because to tell you the truth, I was awful after five years of not playing. The skills that I once had were gone. Had it not been for Hank Stram and knowing me, there would not have been a 7th look for the seventh son of a seventh son. He stayed with me, he thought there was something there. You know what else he did, he surrounded me with great players, great plays. I know some of them are here today, I know two of them are behind me today, enshrined in this Hall, Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier. Jan Stenerud and Otis Taylor, I know that they are also here today and as I said at the beginning, you can't do it alone. You have to have a great deal of help and I had the help all the way along the line.

As I said it is full cycle for me. 37 years ago I played against Canton McKinley High School at Fawcett Stadium as a young sophomore from Alliance, Ohio. This week has been so special. The treatment that we have received here in Canton, Ohio has been nothing but the very, very best. The people have been tremendous in helping us to do whatever we possibly can to get over the nervous feeling right now. The people from Canton are great, but you know something, I’ve always known that, because this is where I grew up. The people of Kansas City, for those of you who don’t know this place, is some kind of town. The people of Kansas City are tremendous; they have been tremendous to me and my family and to the Kansas City Chiefs. I am very proud, very proud to be here. This has been the greatest week of my life. Thank you very much.