1950s1960s1970sHarry KalasKansas City ChiefsLos Angeles RamsNFLNFL FilmsNFL Hall of FameSteve Sabol

NFL – Greatest QBs Ever – Chiefs Len Dawson & Eagles Norm Van Brocklin


Leonard Ray Dawson is a former American football quarterback and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played 19 seasons for three professional teams….with the last 14 seasons as a Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs. Dawson led the Chiefs to three American Football League Championships in 1962, 1966 & 1969….along with a victory in Super Bowl IV….in which he won the game’s MVP award….having retired from professional football after the 1975 season…..while being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. 

Despite his status as a first round pick in the 1957 NFL draft….Dawson was unable to make an impact with the Pittsburgh Steelers…..when following his rookie campaign, his status became even more tenuous when the Steelers acquired future Hall of Famer Bobby Layne early in the 1958 season….after which Dawson was then traded to the Cleveland Browns on December 31, 1959….where he encountered similar problems in battling Browns’ quarterback Milt Plum…..causing Dawson to be released after having completed only 21 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns in his five seasons of NFL play. However, he soon found his calling when he signed with the American Football League’s Dallas Texans on June 30, 1962….in a move that reunited him with Coach Hank Stram….who was beginning his third year as the Texans’ head coach.

In that first AFL season of 1962….Dawson led the league in touchdowns and yards per attempt….becoming The Sporting News’ selection as the AFL MVP….as he also led Dallas to the first of three league titles in a thrilling double-overtime victory over the two-time defending champion Houston Oilers….when Dawson ran a ball-control offense in the 20-17 win….while tossing a 28-yard touchdown pass to halfback Abner Haynes. The team then moved north to Kansas City and were renamed The Chiefs in 1963….the year in which Dawson was selected by his peers as a Sporting News 1966 AFL All-League player.

A pinpoint passer, Dawson’s mobility helped him flourish in Stram’s “moving pocket” offense. He would win four AFL passing titles and was selected as a league All-Star six times….by ending the 10-year run of the league as its highest-rated career passer. From 1962 to 1969, Dawson threw more touchdown passes (182) than any other professional football quarterback during that time. In 1966, Dawson led the Chiefs to a, 11-2-1 record and a 31-7 win over the Buffalo Bills in the AFL championship game….earning his team the honor of representing the AFL in Super Bowl I….the first championship game between the AFL and their NFL champion Green Bay Packers….who beat the Chiefs easily 35-10….in a game in which Dawson had a fairly good performance by completing 16 of 27 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown, with 1 interception.

While he threw for more than 2,000 yards in each of the previous seven campaigns…..Dawson’s 1969 season with Kansas City would be his most memorable….by making a dramatic comeback from a knee injury suffered in the season’s second game. The injury was first feared as season-ending….but after missing five games…..Dawson went on to lead the Chiefs to road playoff victories over both the defending champion New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders….capping off his best year with MVP accolades in Super Bowl IV….the last game ever played by an American Football League team. In the game….in which Dawson paced the Chiefs to a win over the NFL’s heavily favored Minnesota Vikings….when he completed 12 of 17 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown, with 1 interception, and rushing for 11 yards. 

With the league’s absorption into the National Football League in 1970….Dawson earned one final honor from the league as a member of the second team All-time All-AFL Team….as he is also a member of the Chiefs’ Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He would earn Pro Bowl honors following the 1971 NFL season….then ended his career in 1975….having completed 2,136 of 3,741 passes for 28,711 yards and 239 touchdowns, with 181 interceptions….while gaining 1,293 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground . 

The other all-time great NFL quarterback featured on this video…..Norman Mack Van Brocklin…who was nicknamed “The Dutchman” was an American football quarterback, punter, and coach in the National Football League…..who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

Van Brocklin was selected 37th overall in the 1949 NFL draft….afterr being taken in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Rams.…as teams were not sure if he planned to play the 1949 season in college or not….so he fell in the draft, conducted in December 1948.  Van Brocklin signed with the Rams in July and joined a team that already had a star quarterback, Bob Waterfield….so, beginning with the 1950 season….new Rams coach Joe Stydahar solved his problem by platooning Waterfield and Van Brocklin. The 1950 Rams scored a then-record 466 points….a clip of 38.8 per game….which is still a record today….by implementing a high octane passing attack featuring Tom Fears and Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch as major target in the passing game….to which Fears led the league and set a new NFL record with 84 receptions…..while Van Brocklin and Waterfield finished 1-2 in passer rating as well. They were defeated by the Cleveland Browns in the 1950 title game, 30-28.

In 1951, Van Brocklin and Waterfield again split quarterbacking duties….and the Rams again won the West Division in a year that Crazy Legs Hirsch set an NFL record with 1,495 receiving yards while tying Don Hutson’s record of 17 touchdown receptions. This time, the Rams won the title rematch against Cleveland, 24-17…..as Waterfield (9-24, 125 yards) took most of the snaps at the L.A. Coliseum….but Van Brocklin (4-6, 128 yards) threw the game winner of 73 yards to Fears.…thus becoming the Rams’ only NFL championship while based in southern California….with their next title coming in 1999….several years after the move east to St. Louis.

Earlier in 1951 on opening night, Van Brocklin threw for an NFL record 554 yards on September 28….thus breaking Johnny Lujack’s single-game record of 468 set two years earlier. Waterfield was injured so Van Brocklin played the entire game and completed 27 of 41 attempts with five touchdowns. Notwithstanding the increase in passing attacks by NFL teams, the yardage record still stands, set 65 years ago.

Waterfield retired after the 1952 season and Van Brocklin continued to quarterback the Rams….leading them to the 1955 title game hosted at the L.A. Coliseum. In that game, the visiting Browns crushed the Rams 38-14 as Van Brocklin threw six interceptions.….causing The Dutchman to he announced his retirement from pro football after nine seasons.

Len Dawson and Norm Van Brocklin were definitely two of the all-time great quarterbacks who ever played in the NFL…..who deserve their place in the annals of imasportsphile video history of the NFL. 

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