Professional Football Player
Lawrence High School
John was an outstanding halfback at Lawrence High School. After playing halfback on both offense and defense at the University of Kansas as a sophomore, Hadl played quarterback for his last two years at Kansas and was selected as the school's Player of the Century. He was an All American at running back in 1960 and at quarterback in 1961. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.
Hadl was the first KU player to be picked twice for All-America (1960 and 1961) honors for his skills as a quarterback and half back. He also excelled as a defensive back, and punt returner and punter; he led the country with a 45.6-yard average in 1959. His No. 21 jersey is one of only three KU has retired. Hadl, who was picked for the all-conference team for three seasons, wound up with 1,281 yards passing and 1,016-yard rushing. Hadl (as of his induction) still holds two KU records: longest interception return, a 98-yard run against TCU; and longest punt, 94 yards vs. Oklahoma.
With Hadl running the offense, the 'Jayhawks were ranked in the top 20 during his junior and senior years, finishing_15-5-2. He wrapped up his KU career leading his team to a 33-7 win over Rice University in the Bluebonnet Bowl. He was also named MVP in the East-West Shrine game and the College All-Star Game.
He joined the American Football League's San Diego Chargers in 1962. He shared quarterbacking duties until 1966, when he became San Diego's starting quarterback, and averaged over 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns per (14-game) season for the next four years.
He was the American Football League's leading passer in both 1965 and 1968 and was a four time AFL All-Star. In 1969, he was selected as the AFL All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player. The other half of the Chargers' potent passing/receiving tandem was Lance Alworth, the first American Football League player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Many observers believe that Hadl, who threw most of the passes that Alworth received, also belongs in the Hall.
Before the 1973 season, Hadl was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. Leading the Rams to the playoffs that year, he was named the National Football Conference Player of the Year. Hadl was traded to the Green Bay Packers the next year.
Hadl wore #21 for all his NFL career and was the last regular starting quarterback to wear a uniform number greater than #19 before the NFL adopted a rigid uniform numbering system in 1973.
As of his induction, Hadl is currently an associate athletic director at the University of Kansas.