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John Hadl, Star Quarterback for Chargers And Rams, Dies at 82


John Hadl, who became one in every of the leading quarterbacks within the old American Football League with the San Diego Chargers and later helped take the Los Angeles Rams to an unexpected N.F.L. playoff berth in a profession spanning 16 pro seasons, died on Wednesday. He was 82.

The University of Kansas, where Hadl played quarterback, announced the death. The statement didn’t say where he died or give the reason for his death.

When the A.F.L. and the N.F.L. held separate 1962 drafts long before the leagues merged, it wasn’t clear whether Hadl was best suited to be a passer or a runner in the professional game.

He had been an impressive running back as a sophomore at Kansas but played quarterback for his final two seasons in a run-oriented offense, gaining All-America honors as a senior.

The Chargers (now the Los Angeles Chargers) chosen Hadl within the third round of the A.F.L. draft, envisioning him as their quarterback of the longer term. The Detroit Lions selected him in the primary round of the National Football League draft (the No. 10 selection over all), planning to make use of him as a running back who might throw out of pass-run option plays.

“At halfback I may need made it for 2, three years, possibly,” Hadl told The San Diego Union-Tribune in 1994, when he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. “At quarterback you may play a protracted time when you make it, and that’s what happened.”

Having signed with the Chargers, Hadl flourished under their head coach, Sid Gillman, who devised good passing schemes.

“The league took the philosophy that we were going to have an offensive show,” Hadl recalled in a 2006 interview with The Orlando Sentinel. “We were going to attain as many points as we could and never emphasize defense so we will have as exciting a game as we could for the fans and for the TVs. That was our calling card.”

Hadl’s favorite goal was the longer term Hall of Fame wide receiver Lance Alworth, referred to as Bambi for his graceful moves to elude defensive backs.

“I believe John is in the highest three or five who’ve played the sport,” Alworth told The Union-Tribune. “No. 1, he was a winner, and that to me is what you judge people by if you take a look at their records.”

The Chargers’ offense also featured the outstanding running backs Paul Lowe and Keith Lincoln and a formidable offensive line led by tackle Ron Mix, one other Hall of Famer of the longer term.

Hadl, who played for the Chargers from 1962 to 1972, appeared in three A.F.L. championship games, a 51-10 trouncing of the Boston Patriots (now the Latest England Patriots) and two losses to the Buffalo Bills.

Following the 1972 season, the Chargers traded Hadl to the Rams, who had dealt quarterback Roman Gabriel to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Rams were 6-7-1 in 1972, but under their recent head coach, Chuck Knox, and buoyed by Hadl’s passing, they improved to 12-2.

Hadl, at age 33, threw 4 touchdown passes to Harold Jackson within the Rams’ 37-31 victory over Dallas through the 1973 regular season and accomplished 135 of 258 passes for two,008 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Rams lost to the Cowboys, 27-16, in the primary round of the playoffs, but Hadl was the National Football Conference’s player of the yr and began at quarterback within the Pro Bowl game against the American Football Conference. (Following the A.F.L.-N.F.L. merger in 1970, the N.F.L. split into two conferences.)

In midseason 1974, the Rams gave the No. 1 quarterback spot to James Harris, a fourth-year player who had been Hadl’s backup the previous yr, and traded Hadl to the Green Bay Packers for five high-round draft picks. Hadl played for the Packers through the 1975 season, then concluded his profession with the Houston Oilers in 1976 and 1977.

He was the A.F.L. or N.F.L. season leader in passing yardage 3 times and the leader in passes accomplished and touchdown passes twice.

Hadl passed for 244 touchdowns and 33,503 yards in his 11 years with the Chargers and five years with the Rams, Packers and Oilers.

John Willard Hadl was born on Feb. 15, 1940, in Lawrence, Kan., the house of the University of Kansas, a son of Jess and Judy Hadl. His father was a mechanic.

John was an all-state halfback at Lawrence High School. In his three seasons with Kansas, he ran for 1,041 yards and passed for 1,345 yards. He led the nation in punting as a sophomore with a median of 45.6 yards.

After retiring as a player, Hadl was an assistant coach with the Rams and John Elway’s first quarterback coach, with the 1983 Denver Broncos. He was also head coach of the Los Angeles Express in america Football League of the Nineteen Eighties.

Hadl was an offensive coordinator for the Kansas football team as well and later spent 30 years with the university’s athletic department, mainly in fund-raising, before retiring in 2018.

For all his success running the Chargers’ passing attack, Hadl was overshadowed at times by the highly popular Alworth.

But Alworth felt that the perception was unfair. “He had numerous touch together with his throws, and he threw an awesome long ball, which was great for me,” he said. “I don’t really consider that he got the credit he was due.”

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