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Former Pro Bowl quarterback John Hadl dead at 82

John Hadl, the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback who starred for the Chargers in the 1960s, died Wednesday at 82. No cause of death was announced.

Hadl had been a standout at the University of Kansas, where he played offense, defense and also punted. The school retired Hadl’s number 21, one of only three football players to have their uniform retired by the Jayhawks, alongside running backs Gale Sayers and Ray Evans.

A statue honoring Hadl was unveiled in 2020 and stands outside the Anderson Family Football Complex, the Jayhawks’ football stadium

“John Hadl had a generational impact on Kansas football,” Kansas athletic director Travis Goff said in a statement. “He was a once-in-a-lifetime Jayhawk student-athlete, a coach and mentor, a prolific fundraiser who developed profound relationships with countless, and the ultimate ambassador for KU.”

He played with the Chargers from 1962-1972 and set an AFL record with a touchdown pass in 19 consecutive games.

He led the AFL twice in passing yards in head coach Sid Gillman’s high-powered offense and led the NFL in passing yards (3,075) in 1971, after the leagues merged.

Hadl, four-time AFL All-Star, was traded to the Rams, where he led the team to the NFC playoffs during a Pro Bowl 1973 season. He later played for the Packers and Oilers, retiring after the 1977 season.

The Jayhawks star returned to Kansas as an assistant coach and later as an administrator, serving as associate athletics director.

Hadl was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

“Rest in peace, John Hadl,” Colts owner Jim Irsay posted on Twitter. “One of the old AFL’s great gunslingers, but he had some of his best years after the merger.