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Len Dawson: Chan Gailey got raw deal in KC

By Tim Graham

Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson didn't approve of Chan Gailey's dismissal from the Kansas City Chiefs two weeks before the 2009 regular season.

"Of course, nobody asked me," Dawson said by phone Thursday from Kansas City.

But the topic came up while Dawson and I spoke about the Buffalo Bills' home opener Sunday against the Chiefs. Dawson, the AFL icon, is the Chiefs' radio analyst.

Dawson called it "a strange deal" when rookie head coach Todd Haley fired Gailey as offensive coordinator.

Gailey joined the Bills a year later. Facing the Chiefs clearly made Gailey edgier the past couple seasons. The Bills lost 13-10 in overtime two years ago and stomped the Chiefs 41-7 on opening day last year.

The grudge match, however, is over. The Chiefs fired Haley last season with three games to go.

Haley initially wanted Gailey to be his offensive coordinator. Gailey was a holdover from previous head coach Herm Edwards' staff.

But days before the regular season was to start, Haley took over the play-calling duties and cut Gailey adrift.

"That was a strange deal with Chan Gailey," Dawson said. "Todd threw the playbook away from what I understand and put his playbook in two weeks before the opening of the season."

Dawson said he was "very much surprised" at the decision.

"I don't know what Todd was thinking," Dawson said. "Todd was a different type of guy. He was a pleasant guy away from football, but he had his own ideas and ways of doing things."

Dawson said the move was unfair to Gailey and bad for Kansas City's offense.

"It's so disruptive to a team," Dawson said. "He's the offensive coordinator. You go through learning his plays and how he calls them, and two weeks before the season begins for real, there's no playbook?"

Kansas City went 4-12 that season. Haley hired former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, fresh from a lackluster stint at Notre Dame, and Kansas City won the AFC West at 10-6.

Haley now is the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |