Chefs, fans and Mahomes pay tribute to Dawson in preseason finale

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – One day after legendary Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson is deadthe Kansas City Chiefs paid tribute to the franchise’s first Super Bowl MVP during the preseason finale at Arrowhead Stadium’s GEHA Field.

Tribute to Dawson poured in throughout Wednesday after news of his death spread. He had entered the hospice August 12.

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But Thursday’s preseason game represented the first major Chiefs-centric community gathering and provided an opportunity to celebrate The Life and Legacy of Dawsonincluding a minute of silence before kickoff against the Green Bay Packers.

During the Chiefs’ opening practice, Patrick Mahomes took the field and sat in a choir to honor Dawson.

Kansas City fell behind, which Green Bay turned down, before Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce were replaced by Chad Henne and Noah Gray.

Mahomes and Kelce weren’t supposed to play in the game and only took the field to honor Dawson, who was not far from the hearts and minds of Chiefs Kingdom.

Virgil Villarreal, who became a Chiefs fan despite growing up in Michigan, wore a personalized Super Bowl LIV jersey with a crest honoring Lamar Hunt and the NFL’s 100th anniversary logo emblazoned with No. 16 honoring Lamar Hunt. Dawson.

Tod Palmer/KSHB

Virgil Villarreal, who became a Chiefs fan despite growing up in Michigan, wore a personalized Super Bowl LIV jersey with a crest honoring Lamar Hunt and the NFL’s 100th anniversary logo emblazoned with No. 16 honoring Lamar Hunt. Dawson.

“I had to wear it today for Len,” said Villarreal. “Love my captions. Just a nod to Len. Good luck, Len. Rest in peace and thank you – thank you for the memories.

He also bought a Mahomes jersey after the Super Bowl LIV win.

“Len was the man; he was just amazing,” said Villarreal, who moved to Kansas City in the mid-1990s. “He contributed to the sport, but he also contributed to the community and I watched him on the news. Just around the city, you would see it. It was Kansas City.

The Chiefs retired that number in 1987, the same year Dawson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Mahomes also paid tribute to Dawson during warm-ups, wearing a sweater with Dawson’s name and likeness on it.

Among other game-day tributes, the Chiefs changed the team’s official Twitter account avatar to a red No. 16 inside a red circle on a cream-colored background, a nod. to Dawson’s now-retired jersey number from his playing days.

This same design was featured on the decals the Chiefs wore on the left rear of their helmets against the Packers.

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