Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson died on Wednesday at the age of 87, after entering hospice care earlier this month.
Dawson accomplished many things during his career: seven-time Pro Bowler, leading the Kansas City Chiefs to two Super Bowl appearances, including a Super Bowl victory in 1970, and then translating that success into decades as a successful broadcaster.
But it's one photo of Dawson that puts him in a different category.
During halftime of Super Bowl I against the Green Bay Packers, Dawson and the Chiefs found themselves down 14-10.
So what did Dawson do? Something that was very commonplace in 1967. Fire up a cigarette with a glass bottle of a Fresca soft drink (which was discontinued in 2020) at his feet.
Chiefs QB Len Dawson at halftime of Super Bowl I. Cigarette and Fresca! pic.twitter.com/vDuwh228
— John Engle (@jhoustonengle) February 2, 2013
"I’d smoke a cigar, and probably more than half the guys smoked cigarettes back then," Chiefts tight end Fred Arbanas told Yahoo Sports in 2020. "A lot of times, you’d come into our locker room and you could hardly see, it’d be so smoky in there. There were plenty of other guys smoking cigarettes, too, but Lenny’s the quarterback – he’s the one that they snapped."
At the time, the photo of Dawson taken by Bill Ray was not made available to the public when Life Magazine photographed the sights of the game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 15, 1967, which the Chiefs went on to lose 35-10.
It took more than four decades for the game's photo to see the light of day when Life published a photo slideshow.
"If you were to capture a cultural moment on the change that’s taken place, that’s as good as any, because we’re very health conscious today," Chiefs team historian Bob Moore told Yahoo. "Certainly cigarettes have a stigma, and then to equate it with an athlete and then equate it with a quarterback and then equate it with a guy in the Hall of Fame ... you have all the elements that make it interesting and intriguing."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Len Dawson's cigarette photo from Super Bowl halftime remains iconic