Pack­ers leg­end Tay­lor dies at 83

Hall full­back fu­eled Lom­bardi’s sweep, scored Su­per Bowl’s first rush­ing TD.

The Republican Herald - - NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE - BY GE­NARO C. AR­MAS

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, Louisiana, the team said.

Tay­lor played on the great Packer teams and was the

league’s MVP in 1962. 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 day

light” 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 Hor nung and be­gan to thrive when Lom­bardi took over in 1959.

Lom­bardi de­vised the Pack­ers’ “Sweep,” which fea-

tured 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 cal­iber of foot­ball that he felt like would be cham­pi­onship.”

In 1960, Tay­lor ran for 1,101 yards, top­ping Tony Canadeo’s fran­chise mark of 1,052 yards in 1949. It was just

the be­gin­ning. Tay­lor 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, when Green Bay fin­ished 13- 1 in the reg­u­lar sea­son, stood out for him.

“Be­ing voted the MVP of the league in 1962 is some­thing that I look back and cher­ish,” Tay­lor said. “I felt

like I ac­com­plished and achieved my goal.”

The 1962 ti­tle game pit­ted the Pack­ers and the Giants, this time in New York, and was played in 40 mph winds and 13- de­gree tem­per­a­tures at Yan­kee Sta­dium.

Tay­lor was at his tough­est, pick­ing up 85 yards on 31 car­ries against the vaunted Giants de­fense fea­tur­ing

linebacker Sam Huff. Tay­lor sus­tained a gash to his el­bow that re­quired seven stitches at half­time and cut his tongue dur­ing the game.

“If Tay­lor went up to get a pro­gram, Huff was sup­posed to hit him. Wher­ever Tay­lor went, Huff went with him,” Kramer told The As­so­ci­ated Press in 2008. “I re­mem­ber sit­ting next to Jimmy on the way home and he had his top­coat on. He never took it off. He had it over his shoul­der and the guy was shiv­er­ing al­most all the way home. He just got the hell beat out of him that day.”

That game was one of sev­eral that helped launch pro foot­ball into the tele­vi­sion era, and Tay­lor’s con­tri­bu­tions to the Pack­ers en­dured.

Tay­lor, also a mem­ber of the 1965 ti­tle team, fin­ished his Pack­ers ca­reer af­ter the 1966 sea­son as the fran­chise’s all- time lead­ing rusher and held sin­gle- sea­son marks for yards and TDS. He also scored the Su­per Bowl’s first rush­ing touch­down when the Pack­ers de­feated the Kan­sas City Chiefs, 35- 10, in the in­au­gu­ral cham­pi­onship game be­tween the NFL and AFL.

But his yardage tailed off sharply in 1966 and he was openly re­sent­ful of the high salaries paid to new­com­ers Donny An­der­son and Jim Grabowski. Tay­lor played his fi­nal sea­son with the ex­pan­sion New Or­leans Saints.

His 1,474- yard mark from 1962 stood for 41 years un­til Ah­man Green broke it in 2003. Green went on to break the fran­chise’s all- time rush­ing mark in 2009.

In col­lege, Tay­lor stayed home to at­tend LSU, where he let­tered in the 1956 and 1957 sea­sons. He was a first­team All- Amer­i­can dur­ing his sec­ond sea­son, when he also be­came team­mates with Jimmy Can­non, who died last May. Tay­lor led South­east­ern Con­fer­ence in scor­ing with 59 points in 1956.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Green Bay Pack­ers full­back Jim Tay­lor earned MVP hon­ors in 1962.

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