An artist pays tribute to the late Len Dawson with oblong coins.
Dawson, a Hall of Fame quarterback and an Alliance member, died on August 24, 2022 at the age of 87.
Paul Conner, who owns Paul Conner Studios in Peculiar, Missouri, has created more than 1,600 pressed coin designs. Now he’s done a few as a special tribute collection with Dawson.
Conner, 44, said he plans to donate the proceeds from the sale of the coin sets to the ZERO Cancer Foundation, whose mission is to end prostate cancer, something Dawson has fought against.
Dawson campaigned for the nonprofit organization in 2009.
“When we got the news that Len had died, it was like a big chunk of Kansas City disappeared,” Conner said. “I was trying to think of a way to pay tribute to Len.”
From Allianz to Kansas City
Dawson played quarterback at Alliance High School in the 1950s. He later played at Purdue College and was drafted into the National Football League by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1957.
After stints with the Steelers and Cleveland Browns, Dawson found a home in Kansas City. He led the Chiefs to Super Bowl I in 1967 and Super Bowl IV in 1970.
The Chiefs won Super Bowl IV, defeated Minnesota, and Dawson was named MVP. He played 19 seasons and held many franchise records until Patrick Mahomes arrived with the Chiefs.
Dawson is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
After his playing career, Dawson embarked on another successful career in television and radio. He was the Chiefs’ radio color analyst for 33 years and a regular on HBO’s Inside the NFL.
Colony Brown, ZERO Cancer’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, said they were saddened by Dawson’s death. “He worked with ZERO in 2009 to raise awareness of prostate cancer in a campaign in partnership with ZERO and the Kimberly-Clark Corporation,” she said in an email.
“He was just as nice in person as he was on TV.”
Conner, a married father of two, met Dawson several times.
His first encounter was a golf tournament for Super Bowl IV winners when Conner was 10 years old. Conner said he knew Dawson as a sportscaster, not a football player.
Conner related his story, saying that his family lived next door to the golf course and he was fishing with some friends at a creek near the 12th hole. Some of the players saw them.
“His former teammate, Buck Buchanan, was the first to make his way to the green and asked if my friends and I would like to come over and meet the team,” Conner said.
Buchanan, also a Hall of Famer, died in 1992.
Conner continued, “(Buchanan) invited us to join him and get some autographs from the team. When we got to the 18th hole, Len did his news report and Buck took us to him.
“[Dawson]was just as nice in person as he was on TV,” Conner said. “As I grew up, I learned more about the 1969 team and the players and what they really achieved.”
Conner said he would cross paths with Dawson a few more times over the years. “It seemed like Len was there when something important happened in Kansas City.”
Pay tribute with coins
Conner turned a hobby into a passion, from collecting pressed or oblong coins to making them for others. He also gets them to raise money for charities like ZERO Cancer.
He drew on this ability to produce a tribute to Dawson.
Conner, also a Chiefs employee who helps with disabled fans at home games, said he initially gave out the coins to fans, children, staff and anyone who wanted one. Chiefs declined to comment.
“This started a lot of conversations with other fans with some wonderful memories of Len,” he said.
Conner felt he could do more with the coins and said he had started selling them and raising money for the foundation. “I thought that would be a perfect thing to do with them.”
Brown said she wants to be in touch with Conner regarding the potential donation.
Conner said the base set — a penny, nickel, dime, and quarter — starts at $15. The largest set (nine coins) costs $40. He also sells single coins from $2 for a single penny to $6 for a dollar coin.
If you are interested email Conner at [email protected] and he will send you a purchase form.
“They’re open to anyone to buy,” he said.
Reach Benjamin Duer at 330-580-8567 or [email protected] Follow on Twitter: @bduerREP