Former Green Bay fullback Jim Taylor, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Saturday morning, the team announced.
He was 83.
Known for his bruising running style, he played in Green Bay from 1958-66 and exceeded 1,000 rushing yards each season from 1960-64. He ran for a league-high 1,474 yards in 1962 when the Packers won the NFL championship. The Associated Press named him the league MVP that season — before he ran for 85 yards in the title game, a bruising defensive battle against the New York Giants.
“Taylor isn’t human,” Giants middle linebacker Sam Huff said after the game. “No human being could have taken the punishment he got today.”
He played his final NFL season, 1967, with New Orleans.
A contemporary of fellow Hall of Fame member Jim Brown, Taylor played second fiddle to the faster Brown. He took it personally and viewed each of the games between Brown’s Cleveland team and his Packers as a personal match. In their three head-to-head games, including the 1965 NFL Championship Game, the Packers won all three, with Taylor outgaining Brown in two of them.
Taylor led the Packers in rushing in seven seasons, and he started at fullback on six of Vince Lombardi’s seven NFL championship teams.
“Taylor may not be as big as some fullbacks, but he has balance and determination,” Lombardi said after Taylor received the league’s MVP award. “He is hard to knock off his feet and he fights for every yard.”
Taylor entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in 1976 — the first member of Lombardi’s team to receive the honor.
“Jim Taylor lived life the same way he played football, with passion, determination and love for all he did,” said David Baker, Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO, in a statement Saturday. “While Jim’s spirit forever resides at the Hall, we will miss his smile that would light up a room.”
The Hall of Fame also posted a video on Twitter of Taylor’s teammate, Jerry Kramer, talking about him.
On the field, one of Taylor’s trademarks was his ability to hold on to the ball. He fumbled just 34 times in 2,166 touches.
“That son-of-a-gun is the toughest son-of-a-gun in the league,” backfield mate Paul Hornung once said of Taylor. “I’ve seen him run over guys 30 or 40 pounds bigger than he is like that (snap of a finger). Jimmy Brown may be the best all-around athlete I’ve seen, but he doesn’t have Taylor’s desire.”
A native of Baton Rouge, La., Taylor played his college ball at LSU and was selected in the second round of the 1958 NFL Draft. In his nine years with the Packers, Taylor gained his 8,207 yards on 1,811 carries for a 4.5 average. He played in 115 games and started 103 with Green Bay, missing just five games in all.
—Field Level Media