Even though the Kansas City Chiefs lost Super Bowl I to the Packers, one iconic image of Len Dawson has left its impact over 50 years later.
We learned late Friday night that Kansas City Chiefs legend Len Dawson has entered hospice care. This is no doubt a very sad and painful moment not only for Dawson’s family but also the entire Kansas City community. Our own Charles Robinson wrote a wonderful tribute to the Kansas City legend that you can check out here.
Dawson is famous for many things in Kansas City. When the team was still young, he became their star quarterback and led the the team to two of the first four Super Bowls. It’s still pretty amazing to think that the Kansas City Chiefs—yes, the same Chiefs who were pretty terrible for the better part of 50 years—actually were in the very first Super Bowl.
And they were led by Lenny the Cool. Why was he known as Lenny the Cool? No doubt, it was due to his Hall of Fame play on the field. But there’s one particular moment from that very first Super Bowl that lives on in the “Hall of Cool”. Trey Wingo certainly didn’t want us to forget it:
A professional football player smoking a cigarette, but not just anywhere—at halftime of the championship game. This picture is almost as iconic as Joe Namath walking onto the field in his giant fur coat a few years later.
For all the grit that professional football players (of any era) have, one thing you’ll never see is a player, let alone a star player, smoking on the sideline and drinking a Fresca during halftime. Forget Gatorade, water, or any sort of healthy electrolytes; Len Dawson was chugging sparkling water and taking a deep breath of smoke before running back out there to get smacked around by the Packers. Trey Wingo is right, what a legend.
This is a picture of a time that will never be seen again (it’s interesting to me that the original Super Bowl recording itself has been lost, but this picture survived). But over 50 years later, even another Chiefs quarterback legend pays tribute to the man, the myth, the Cool.
If Patrick Mahomes can be tribute to Lenny the Cool, I’m hoping the Chiefs also pay homage to the legendary quarterback who gave us our very first Super Bowl sometime this season. My prayers are with Len and his family through this difficult time.