An inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame (1994), Hadl was the first Kansas player to be picked twice for All-America honors (1960 and 1961). He was also named the Most Valuable Player of both the East-West Shrine game and the College All-Star game after the 1961 season.
Hadl then enjoyed a successful 16-year career as a professional quarterback, most notably with the San Diego Chargers. A six-time Pro Bowler, he played in three American Football League Championship games and was named National Football Conference Player of the Year in 1973. He was named the 1971 National Football League Man of the Year and is a member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame. Hadl was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 1962 NFL Draft.
After retiring from professional football in 1977, Hadl returned to his hometown and to his true love, the University of Kansas, as an assistant football coach. As assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in 1981 he helped lead the Jayhawks to the Hall of Fame Bowl. His players loved him, having come to understand his passion for and knowledge of the game. In the mid-1980’s he coached in the NFL and the USFL.
In 1988 Hadl returned to KU to join the Williams Education Fund. For 30 years he was at the forefront of fundraising for the construction and renovation of KU’s athletics facilities. Hadl retired from his position in the Kansas Athletics’ Williams Education Fund in October of 2018.
A Jayhawk at heart, John Hadl will forever be honored as a member of the Kansas football Ring of Honor and the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame. His No. 21 is one of three Kansas football numbers to be retired (Gale Sayers No. 48 and Ray Evans No. 42).
Hadl’s legacy was celebrated during the 2020 season with a statue unveiling outside of Anderson Family Football Complex. He is one of two Jayhawks to be commemorated.