‘A perfect leader:’ Dawson’s teammates share memories of legendary Chiefs QB
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The men who stood alongside Len Dawson en route to his MVP honors in Super Bowl IV spoke to KCTV5 about the Chiefs quarterback following his passing at the age of 87 Wednesday morning.
“Lenny is just an icon for Kansas City,” said former Chiefs defensive end Bobby Bell. “You talk about Kansas City, you talk about Lenny Dawson.”
Hall of Fame kicker Jan Stenerud called Dawson “a perfect leader.”
“He was the biggest star in Chiefs history from the time they moved here in 1963 until the last couple of years when he got some pretty good competition,” Stenerud said with a laugh. “But even so, he’ll go down as the statesman and the most important in Chiefs history for what he did besides football.”
Dawson was one of eight players on the Super Bowl IV team to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. During a time where rosters in professional football were smaller, Bell said Dawson kept the Chiefs close. The former Chiefs defensive end said his relationship with Dawson continued to grow in the years following their playing time as Chiefs, something rare for teammates to be able to do.
“Lenny is just a really close friend,” Bell said. “I got to know him after the football. It didn’t go away, the friendship, sometimes it goes away and we all stayed around. We’ve been around here for 40-50 years. Lenny was a friend. He loves people, he loves fans. We didn’t hide, Lenny didn’t hide from people.”
READ MORE: Len Dawson, Chiefs Super Bowl winning QB and longtime broadcaster, dies at 87
Chiefs passing records for yards (28,711) and touchdowns (239) are both held by Dawson. With fellow Chiefs quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes approaching those records quickly, Bell said it remains important to remember how great of a leader he was in the context of his stats.
“He was a great quarterback because he was a leader. He goes into the meeting and he’d learn and once he was on the field he was in charge,” Bell said. “That’s what I loved about him. You’d get out on the field, a certain situation would come up and he had to make the adjustment there.”
Running back Mike Garrett, who scored a rushing touchdown during the Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV win over the Minnesota Vikings, echoed Bell’s sentiment in regard to leadership.
“The great thing about Lenny’s leadership was that he did it quietly,” said Garrett. “He just did it by example and everyone knew what they had to do to participate and to win. Len came in and just blended it all together. Never an ego, just somebody who knew the task at hand and did it quietly.”
Dawson had been in hospice care since Friday, Aug. 12. In November, former Chiefs defensive lineman and Hall-of-Famer Curley Culp died. Garrett said multiple teammates have died in recent years, but Dawson’s passing signals the end of their era.
“We’ve lost so many teammates, and now we lose the one that symbolizes all the years we played here,” Garrett said.
READ MORE: Kansas City, football community remembers Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson
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