University of Purdue
Chiefs Hall of Fame (1979)
Pro Football Hall of Fame (1987)
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.