East Stadium Drive over Interstate 435 in Jackson County has been designated the “Len Dawson Bridge” by the Missouri General Assembly. House Bill 1866, passed by Senator Paul LeVota, designated the “Len Dawson Bridge” as part of the Missouri Department of Transportation’s highway designation program to honor certain individuals, events, places or organizations on Missouri’s state highway system.
Signs will be placed on both ends of East Stadium Drive over I-435. The Jackson County Sports Complex Authority provided funding for the sign fabrication and installation at the bridge. The designation was recognized in a special ceremony today at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Len’s contributions to the Chiefs, the Kansas City community and the game of professional football are innumerable,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “Between his record-setting career on the field and his success as a broadcaster off the field, Len Dawson has left an indelible mark on my family, this franchise and the entire Kansas City community. We are so proud that the Missouri Department of Transportation has recognized him with this honor.”
In 1962 Dawson joined the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs and led the franchise to its first AFL Championship in a double overtime victory over the Houston Oilers. Under his guidance, the Chiefs were perennial contenders and won the AFL Championships in 1962, 1966 and 1969. Dawson was the MVP of Super Bowl IV when he directed Kansas City to a 23-7 victory over heavily favored Minnesota Vikings.
Dawson 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.
Dawson’s on-field legacy was preserved in Kansas City in 1979 when he was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame. In 1987, he received the sport’s greatest individual honor as he was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Dawson began his renowned broadcasting career in 1966 as a sports anchor with KMBC Radio and sports director for KMBC-TV while still playing quarterback for the Chiefs. Following his retirement from professional football in 1975, Dawson joined NBC-TV as a color analyst on NFL games until 1982. In 1984, he joined the Chiefs Radio Network as a color commentator, a position he continues to hold to this day. He is the longest tenured sportscaster in Kansas City radio and television history.
While working NFL games for NBC, Dawson also embarked on what would become a 24-year run that spanned four decades (1977-2001) as the host of HBO’s popular ‘Inside the NFL’ show. ‘Inside the NFL’ was cable television’s longest running series and the first NFL-related program to air on cable.
For his contributions to broadcasting, Dawson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Hall’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. Dawson is only the third individual in history to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as both a player and as a broadcaster, joining Dan Dierdorf and Frank Gifford.
In 2014, Dawson was honored with the Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football at the 44th Annual NFL 101 Awards. Created in 2007 to honor the life and legacy of Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt, the award is given annually to an individual or group that has helped shape the National Football League into the preeminent professional sports league in America.
Dawson is active in the Kansas City community, where he continues to live, and focuses a large amount of time on charity work.
Dawson, LeVota, Chiefs President Mark Donovan and Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission Chairman Stephen Miller all spoke at the event in the Penthouse Suite at Arrowhead. Others attending the ceremony included members of the Dawson family, friends, Chiefs staff, honored legislators and officials.