John Hadl, Lawrence High, KU, NFL star dies at 82
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - John Hadl, a homegrown football legend at the University of Kansas who went on to become a professional football star, passed away on Wednesday morning. He was 82. Hadl made a name for himself at Lawrence High School as an all-state halfback for the football team and as a centerfielder for the baseball team. To the delight of Lawrence residents, Hadl chose to play for KU.
In his junior and senior seasons at KU, Hadl etched his name into the history books. Hadl’s versatility propelled him to excel both as a halfback and quarterback. With Hadl running the offense, the Jayhawks were ranked in the top-20 his junior and senior years and finished the two-season span 14-5-2. He wrapped up his Kansas career leading his team to the program’s first-ever bowl victory, a 33-7 decision over Rice in the 1961 Bluebonnet Bowl. Hadl later returned to KU as an assistant coach and fundraiser.
Hadl then enjoyed a successful 16-year career as a professional quarterback, most notably with the San Diego Chargers. A six-time Pro Bowler, he played in three American Football League Championship games and was named National Football Conference Player of the Year in 1973. He was named the 1971 National Football League Man of the Year and is a member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame. Hadl was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 1962 NFL Draft.
Hadl is a member of the Kansas football Ring of Honor and the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame. His No. 21 is one of three Kansas football numbers to be retired (Gale Sayers No. 48 and Ray Evans No. 42). Hadl’s legacy was celebrated during the 2020 season with a statue unveiling outside of Anderson Family Football Complex. He is one of two Jayhawks to be commemorated.
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