The epitome of ‘run to daylight’
Taylor was a force for 1960s Packers dynasty built by Lombardi
GREEN BAY, WIS.— Jim Taylor, the ferocious hall of fame fullback who embodied the Green Bay Packers’ unstoppable ground game during the Vince Lombardi era and helped the team win four NFL titles and the first Super Bowl, died Saturday. He was 83.
He died unexpectedly at a hospital in his hometown of Baton Rouge, La., the team said.
Taylor played on the great Packer teams and was the league’s MVP in1962. He scored the first rushing touchdown in Super Bowl history.
“He was a gritty, classic player on the Lombardi teams and a key figure of those great championship runs,” Packers president Mark Murphy said of the player who left his mark on “multiple generations of Packers fans.”
Taylor was voted into the hall in 1976. David Baker, president of the hall, lauded Taylor for not only personifying Lombardi’s “run to daylight” philosophy but for living his life as he played game, with “passion, determination and love for all he did.”
Taylor spent 10 seasons in the NFL after being drafted in the second round out of LSU in 1958. He joined a backfield that featured Paul Hornung and began to thrive when Lombardi took over in 1959.
Lombardi devised the Packers’ “Sweep,” which featured pulling guards Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston clearing the path for Taylor or Hornung running around the end. The 6-foot, 216-pound Taylor best fulfilled the play’s punishing effectiveness, a workhorse always charging forward, dragging would-be tacklers along.
“He taught me lots of character, and virtues, and principles,” Taylor said of Lombardi, with whom he occasionally feuded, in a 2001 interview with the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “He established a calibre of football that he felt like would be championship.”
In 1960, Taylor ran for a teamrecord 1,101 yards. He ran for five straight 1,000-yard seasons from 1960-64 and led the Packers seven consecutive times in rushing.
In 1961, Taylor ran for 1,307 yards and scored an NFL-best 15 touchdowns as the Packers rolled to a 37-0 victory over the Giants in Green Bay for Lombardi’s first title.
The next year would be Taylor’s finest. He ran for 1,474 yards and 19 TDs in 14 games, and scored the only touchdown in the Packers’ 16-7 victory over the New York Giants for the second of his four titles.
Taylor said that season stood out for him.
“Being voted the MVP of the league in1962 is something that I look back and cherish,” Taylor said. “I felt like I accomplished and achieved my goal.”
That 1962 title game was one of several that helped launch pro football into the television era, and Taylor’s contributions to the Packers endured.
Taylor also scored the Super Bowl’s first rushing touchdown when the Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in January 1967 in the inaugural championship game between the NFL and AFL.
Taylor was often compared to his contemporary, Cleveland’s Jim Brown, but Lombardi had different views on two of the most punishing running backs in the league at the time.
“Jim Brown will give you that leg (to tackle) and then take it away from you,” Lombardi said. “Jim Taylor will give it to you and then ram it through your chest.”
Jim Taylor, who died Saturday at the age of 83, was the first player from the 1960s Packers dynasty to enter the hall of fame.