Before Dak Prescott and Tony Romo and Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach and even Don Meredith, Len Dawson was the first star quarterback in Dallas professional football history.
Now 87, the leader of the 1962 Dallas Texans, Super Bowl IV MVP and Pro Football Hall of Famer has passed away after having been placed in hospice care in Kansas City. Former Dallas Cowboys receiver and co-Hall of Famer Drew Pearson is among the football elite to reach out to Dawson and his family.
In 1960 pro football arrived in DFW, in the form of the NFL's Cowboys and the AFL's Dallas Texans. The Texans' owner - Lamar Hunt - was keen on hiring for his head coach a defensive whiz in New York. Alas, Tom Landry took a job with the Cowboys and Hunt settled on future Hall of Famer Hank Stram.
While the Cowboys floundered in their first three seasons, by 1962 the Texans were winning their league's championship. With their training camp at SMU and sharing a home stadium with the Cowboys in the Cotton Bowl, the Texans got a boost from the arrival of Dawson.
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Cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns, Dawson joined the Texans and became the AFL's MVP after leading the league in passing touchdowns with 29. In 1962 Meredith, the Cowboys' first star quarterback, was still splitting time with Eddie LeBaron.
Tired of sharing the spotlight with the Cowboys and sensing an available market to the north, Hunt moved the Texans to Kansas City in 1963 and re-named them the Chiefs. Dawson was the centerpiece of Kansas City's early success, leading them to three AFL Championships. And after the NFL-AFL merger in 1966, he led the Chiefs to a 23-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.
From 1962 to 1969, Dawson threw more touchdown passes (182) than any other professional football quarterback.