Len Dawson was an immediate success with the Boilermakers. In his first game, he threw four touchdowns and passed for 185 yards on 11 completions in a 31-0 shutout over Missouri on Sept. 25, 1954. For an encore, Dawson's precision passing led to a 27-14 upset over No.1-ranked Notre Dame at Notre Dame Stadium one week later. Dawson torched the Fighting Irish secondary for 213 passing yards and four touchdowns on just 12 passes.
When the 1954 season came to a close, the sophomore sensation led the nation in passing efficiency (145.8) and touchdown passes (15). Dawson followed his dominating sophomore season with solid junior and senior campaigns, finishing his career as the school leader in career passing yards (3,325) and touchdowns passes (29).
Selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the fifth-overall pick in the 1957 NFL Draft, Dawson became one of the greatest passers in pro football history.
For one of the league's all-time greats, Dawson had an inauspicious start. In his first five seasons, Dawson was mostly a backup quarterback, throwing just two touchdowns for the Steelers and Cleveland Browns during that span.
The Dallas Texans of the upstart American Football League took a chance on Dawson in 1962, and the team reaped immediate dividends. Dawson rewarded their faith by guiding the Texans to an AFL Championship in 1962. He led the league in completion percentage (.610), touchdown passes (29) and passer rating (98.3) that season.
The Texans became the Kansas City Chiefs in 1963, and Dawson lead the Chiefs to AFL dominance for the rest of the decade, including appearances in Super Bowls I and IV. In Super Bowl IV, Dawson completed 12 of 17 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown en route to a 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. He was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
Dawson finished his NFL career with 28,711 passing yards and 239 touchdown passes and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
Dawson's Purdue Statistics