July 7, 2016

Highlighted Year: Len Dawson, 1963

Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs

Age:  28
7th season in pro football, 2nd in AFL & with Texans/Chiefs
College: Purdue
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 190

Highly regarded coming out of college, Dawson was taken in the first round of the 1957 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. After sitting on the bench and throwing just 17 passes in three years, he was dealt to Cleveland, where he backed up Milt Plum for two seasons. He requested his release from the Browns in 1962 and joined his former backfield coach at Purdue, Hank Stram, who had gone on to become the head coach of the AFL’s Dallas Texans. Stram worked intensively with Dawson, rusty from his years as a reserve, and he took over as the team’s starting quarterback with outstanding results. Dawson was the AFL’s top passer (as well as Player of the Year) in ’62, leading the league in touchdown passes (29), completion percentage (61.0), and yards per attempt (8.9), and the Texans won the AFL Championship. The franchise moved to Kansas City and was rechristened the Chiefs in 1963, and suffered through a lesser year.

1963 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 352 [3, tied with Dick Wood]
Most attempts, game – 46 vs. Buffalo 10/13
Completions – 190 [3]
Most completions, game – 25 at Buffalo 9/22
Yards – 2389 [4]
Most yards, game – 278 at Denver 9/7
Completion percentage – 54.0 [2]
Yards per attempt – 6.8 [7]
TD passes – 26 [1]
Most TD passes, game – 4 at Denver 9/7, vs. Houston 10/6, vs. NY Jets 12/22
Interceptions – 19 [4, tied with Dick Wood]
Most interceptions, game – 4 at Houston 10/27
Passer rating – 77.5 [3]
200-yard passing games – 7

Attempts – 37
Most attempts, game – 7 (for 69 yds.) at Houston 10/27
Yards – 272 [12]
Most yards, game – 69 yards (on 7 carries) at Houston 10/27
Yards per attempt – 7.4
TDs – 2 [19, tied with five others]

TDs – 2
Points – 12

Chiefs went 5-7-2 to finish third in the AFL Western Division.

Fortunes improved for Dawson and the Chiefs in the ensuing seasons. By the rating system then in use, he led the league in passing three times over the next five years (by the modern system, he led it in all five). Dawson also led in completion percentage five straight times, TD passes twice (although not when he had his career high of 30 in 1964), yards per attempt twice, and, further testimony to his efficiency as a passer, four times in percentage of TD passes. The team won AFL championships in 1966 and ’69, losing in the inaugural Super Bowl following the former and winning Super Bowl IV (the last prior to the merger of the two leagues) after the latter. Dawson missed time to injury in that 1969 season but was behind center in the postseason and was named Super Bowl MVP. He remained with the Chiefs through 1975, at age 40, and retired with 28,711 passing yards, 239 TD passes, and an 82.6 passer rating. Dawson was a consensus first-team All-AFL selection twice, received second-team honors after two other seasons, and was selected to six AFL All-Star Games and, following the AFL/NFL merger, one Pro Bowl. The Chiefs retired his #16 and Dawson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1987.


Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970