For Pete's Sake

As CTE cases mount, Len Dawson is aware of how fortunate he has been

Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson during a game at Arrowhead Stadium in 2014.
Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson during a game at Arrowhead Stadium in 2014.

The bad news no longer surprises.

Who could be shocked to hear that former Raiders quarterback Kenny Stabler, who died of colon cancer last July, had CTE? That’s chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease that causes dementia and memory loss.

The New York Times has a devastating story of former Packers’ safety Willie Wood, the man whose interception was the biggest play in Super Bowl I. Green Bay led 14-10 in the third quarter when Wood picked off the pass from Len Dawson and returned it to the Chiefs’ 5-yard line.

Elijah Pitts’ rushing touchdown on the next play effectively ended the Chiefs’ hopes as Green Bay rolled to a 35-10 win.

The Times story says that Wood has no memory of his interception. Dawson, 80, is quoted in the story and he is acutely aware of the problems that some former NFL players are facing.

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“I’ve got teammates who have some problems like Willie Wood,” he said. “I think maybe from concussions and things like that. It’s, well, it’s a rough game.”

He added: “They all have problems, particularly the offensive and defensive linemen. I’ve been lucky. The game has been good to me.”

Dawson is the color analyst for Chiefs games and still works for KMBC. Sam Mellinger had a wonderful column about Dawson last year when he acknowledged about how fortunate he was.

That was reiterated in the Times’ story.

“The fact is that whoever has the ball in football gets hit, and I had the ball on almost every play,” he said. “I don’t know, maybe that seventh son of a seventh son thing is good luck.”

Mitch Holthus, play-by-play broadcaster with the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, spoke about his working with Chiefs Hall Of Fame quarterback Len Dawson and his importance to the franchise. VIDEO

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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