Packers great Jim Taylor dies at 83

Wikipedia

Jim Taylor, a Hall of Fame running back best remembered for his role on Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers, has died at the age of 83.

Taylor was known as a fierce competitor who would run over, around or through an opponent, and he won a league MVP award and played on the 1966 Packers team that won the first Super Bowl.

Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1935, Taylor played his college football at LSU. He was a first-team All-American in 1957, and the Packers chose him with the 15th overall pick in the 1958 NFL draft.

At first Taylor was used sparingly in Green Bay, but when Lombradi arrived in 1959 he turned Taylor into a workhorse back, and by 1960 Taylor led the league in rushing attempts. Lombardi was partial to the “Packers sweep,” which he famously diagrammed on a chalkboard describing “a seal here, and a seal here,” with Taylor’s job being to “run this play in the alley.”

Taylor ran in the alley enough that in 1962 he led the NFL in rushing and then led the Packers to a 16-7 win over the Giants in the NFL Championship Game at Yankee Stadium. By 1966 he had become the league’s top rusher (thanks to the retirement of Jim Brown), and in Super Bowl I he scored a touchdown, which he characteristically credited to the offensive line.

“It was just good blocking on a weak-side sweep play,” Taylor said. “It’s a cakewalk when you get the blocking. It was just like we had been doing the last five or six years.”

But if Taylor was happy with his offensive line, he was increasingly unhappy in Green Bay, and after playing on a series of one-year contracts Taylor refused to sign the option deal the Packers were offering him.

“I liked to play the game,” Taylor recalled in a New York Times interview in 1982, “but I also was a man trying to provide a comfortable living and a good future for myself and my family. I remember going to Vince Lombardi when I was at my peak and trying to negotiate for more money. Lombardi was a tough negotiator. And why not? He held all the cards in the deck. I’d say, ‘Well, I was all-pro for these many years, and I think I deserve such and such.’ He’d say, ‘Well, we’re going to pay you this amount, and if you’re not happy, Jim, then go play out your option.’ He knew, of course, that playing out your option and trying to sell your services on the free market in football was just about impossible. The owners banded together and wouldn’t make a bid.”

When the expansion New Orleans Saints began play in his home state, Taylor saw his opportunity, with a new owner of a new team who would want to sign a hometown star. It was almost unheard of for a player in those days to leave one team and sign with another, and the Saints were forced to give the Packers a first-round draft pick as compensation for signing Taylor away. But Taylor got his wish of going home, and he also demonstrated that a player could negotiate just as hard as management did.

Taylor, then, will be remembered both as an all-time great player on the field, and as a player who was smart enough off the field to recognize the value he brought to a team. Taylor was ahead of his time.

71 responses to “Packers great Jim Taylor dies at 83

  1. I wonder if his family will be so arrogant as to seek a concussion settlement like Frank Gifford’s family did, even though Gifford died in his 80’s.

  2. Condolences to his family. As tough as they came. One guy who would have played without a face mask, and the opponent would have gotten the worst of it. RIP.

  3. This isn’t a modern day stat/pretty boy we’re talkin about here this was a real football playerr

  4. I’m assuming it was because of his Louisiana connection, but the Saints retired his number after 1 year and 360 yards rushing, but the Packers never did after a HOF career. Kind of bizarre.

  5. How could you not fall in love with football in the 60’s seeing packers/Browns sluggging it out in the mud.

  6. The people who’ll be talking about what a football player he was would have been the same people destroying him for wanting more money had the internet existed back then.

  7. Taylor and his peers epitomized real pro football.
    Taylor talked trash and backed it up. Today’s players talk trash via the media and rarely back it up.
    Taylor was a hard-nosed player who ran over other players. Today’s players are so fragile that that are averse to contact.
    I am a fan of players like Taylor, Huff, Jim Brown, Jack Lambert, Nitschke, etc.
    Today’s players are said to be “great” but in reality today’s players don’t belong on the same field with players from the 50’s/60’s/70’s.

  8. Jimmy Taylor retired as the No. 2 all-time leading rusher only behind Jim Brown.

    Paul Hornung was great, but Jimmy was better IMO.

    Heaven has called another Packer back home.

  9. Taylor on offense and Nitschke on defense were clones on each side of the ball.They were both great players.RIP,Jim

  10. Loved the guy. Even when he was kicking my Cowboy’s a**es in the 60’s. That was when a 21-17 game was believed to be acceptable. And you could tackle a QB. Makes me laugh when youngsters think todays players could put up the numbers they do if they played under the rules these guys did. Brady/Brees are good players buy if they had to actually get hit they wouldn’t be playing in their 40’s and running up the numbers they are now. Perspective. Google it millenials.

  11. RIP Taylor. Tough dude who would probably spit a tooth at a linebacker. If he left the team like that today the Packer fans on the internet would say “See you later Tim, good luck!” then roast brats over the burning #31 jerseys.

  12. My dad just passed 3 weeks ago at 83 as well. He started me on football. My first game was a packer game. Read Instant Replay as a kid and became a packer fan. Bart Starr was my guy. That was then, this is now. I have no problem admitting that while these guys from the 60’s were great in their day, an O-line that averaged 250 lbs would not last a quarter in today’s game. Sure guys like Bubba Smith could probably play defense now but seriously, it’s absurd to try to compare eras. At least for those of us who are actually old enough to have seen these games and can assess without prejudice towards our current favorites. That said, the rules have changed so that players aren’t crippled at 45 years old.

  13. Great player from a bygone era. Great Packer.
    There’s not a lot I can add that hasn’t already been touched on, so I’ll just send my best wishes to his family and friends.

    With so many of the Lombardi era Packers having left us, or on the verge of leaving us, it’s just another big reminder how special it was to have Jerry Kramer’s induction to the NFL HOF last August.
    It meant a great deal to him and his family and I was just really pleased he was still around to enjoy that moment.
    He deserved it.

  14. RIP

    Its a shame most of his runs would probably draw flags under modern rules. This kind of player must have come to loathe today’s game.

  15. I’d love to see what his brain looked like… talk about a human pile-driver, there was absolutely zero subtlety or elusiveness in Jim Taylor’s game, he ran over you and through you with his head down and his thighs and knees churning like a cement mixer. Watched him battle Butkus at Wrigley Field a couple of times when I was just a little kid, but I still remember the incredible violent impacts, astonishing for eight-year old eyes and ears, up close and personal in that little tiny bleephole stadium with the corner of the end zone cut off… Taylor broke someone’s shoulder once with those king sized thigh pads of his. Perfect for his team and his era, probably couldn’t play D-1 college ball today at his size and speed, or lack of same, but nevertheless an absolute all-timer and legitimate HOF’er without question.

    Godspeed, Thunder Jim

  16. “The Truth says: October 13, 2018 at 1:36 pm This isn’t a modern day stat/pretty boy we’re talkin about here this was a real football player.”

    Seconded. Taylor would lower his head and nightmare your arse.

    RIP Jim.

  17. I did not he played for the Packers too. Him and Jerry Rice were one of the best WR duo ever. The slant from Montana against the Bengals will always be eteched in my memory like it was yesterday. Rest in peace.

  18. oldcat157 says:
    October 13, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    I did not he played for the Packers too. Him and Jerry Rice were one of the best WR duo ever. The slant from Montana against the Bengals will always be eteched in my memory like it was yesterday. Rest in peace.
    ……
    That would be John Taylor you’re referring to.

  19. Just another note.Neither him or jim brown – whom I saw play live, ever played on art turf and in a nice covered stadium. Nor did they play the championship games in the Florida sun.
    They played on grass in the crappiest weather imaginable.

  20. It was awesome to watch Taylors career- and Jim Browns career and Fran Tarkenton’s career. Sometimes it’s not about your favorite team but watching excellence on the football field. RIP Jim!!

  21. Taylor is one of the best examples of how great these early guys were both as players and men.

    Too bad those days both in football and society seem to be fading away

  22. mackcarrington says:
    October 13, 2018 at 1:45 pm
    Interesting to note that he was considered a “fullback” while being featured on sweeps.

    In that era, in which I was alive, “Fullback” was a term that described a player used almost exclusively for rushing the ball and blocking. “Halfbacks” were players used half of the time as rushers and half of the time as receivers – thus the title “Halfback.” To which part of the field the full-time rushing back ran was not a factor relevant in the title.

    Back then, Fullbacks carried the ball 30 times a game and were studs.

    Halfbacks were swift and shifty but could be knocked out by guys like Bednarik.

  23. RIP Sir. Met him in 1993..he was in great shape. I asked how his Packer teams would do against the Cowboy teams(92-93) Looled me straight in the eye and said ‘We would hold our own.’ Rip Sir. Hope your Tigers win one for you today.

  24. ackcarrington says:
    October 13, 2018 at 1:45 pm
    Interesting to note that he was considered a “fullback” while being featured on sweeps.
    —————-

    Back then they called halfbacks fullbacks. Learn your lore!

  25. barrywhereufrom says:

    “Met him in 1993”.
    _________

    Man, some people will make up anything to try to associate themselves with the greats. You never met Jim Taylor, he would never associate himself with any place where you would be.

  26. briang12 3 says:

    “I wonder if his family will be so arrogant as to seek a concussion settlement”
    _______

    Someone needs to give you a reason to request a concussion settlement, assuming that there is anything inside your skull to be concussed.

  27. The days when you could run the same rushing play over and over and win championships. Then Tom Landry changed the game.

  28. “The days when you could run the same rushing play over and over and win championships”

    Max McGee had 7 catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the first Super Bowl. The Packers sweep, which was an iconic play, wasn’t the only play that won championships.

  29. cardinealsfan20 says:
    October 13, 2018 at 7:08 pm
    “The days when you could run the same rushing play over and over and win championships”

    Max McGee had 7 catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the first Super Bowl. The Packers sweep, which was an iconic play, wasn’t the only play that won championships.
    —————————————

    That figures you’re a Packer fan. Most of them probably can’t spell cardinal either.

  30. That figures you’re a Packer fan. Most of them probably can’t spell cardinal either
    —–
    How about on a story like this you actually try to remember you’re a human and limit yourself to just one troll post next time?

  31. 2 things on this, 1) I miss the old NFL films by the Sabols, 2) Hate when fans dishonor guys for his era saying they couldn’t play in today’s game because it’s just a disrespect to the path that they laid down.

  32. 700levelvet says:
    I’m assuming it was because of his Louisiana connection, but the Saints retired his number after 1 year and 360 yards rushing, but the Packers never did after a HOF career. Kind of bizarre.
    >>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<
    Not BIZARRE at all. The Packers are hesitant to retire numbers. Jim Taylors name is in the ring of honor inside Lambeau Field and also in the Packers Hall of Fame. His career in GB has not been overlooked sir.
    Not in the least.

  33. wilkersonswobblykankles says:
    October 13, 2018 at 8:50 pm
    RIP Jimmy, you will love talking shop with Tony Sparono and Korey Stringer
    ————
    A man just died. Please show some respect and not makes this about the Packer fans who make fun of those associated with the Vikings (Tony and Korey) dying.

  34. “snobberknocker says:
    October 13, 2018 at 4:41 pm
    mackcarrington says:
    October 13, 2018 at 1:45 pm
    Interesting to note that he was considered a “fullback” while being featured on sweeps.

    In that era, in which I was alive, “Fullback” was a term that described a player used almost exclusively for rushing the ball and blocking. “Halfbacks” were players used half of the time as rushers and half of the time as receivers – thus the title “Halfback.” To which part of the field the full-time rushing back ran was not a factor relevant in the title.

    Back then, Fullbacks carried the ball 30 times a game and were studs.

    Halfbacks were swift and shifty but could be knocked out by guys like Bednarik.”

    The only part of what you said that is accurate is that fullbacks ran the ball more often than in modern times.

    The origin of the names had to do with the positions of the players on the field, not the frequency with which they received the ball. The quarterback was a quarter of the way back. The halfbacks (two) were half the way back, and the fullback was the furthest back. The fullback was the biggest back for running line plunges in football’s early brutal days. In the early 20th century the quarterback usually lined up to the side of center and called the play signals and was primarily a blocking back. The ball was snapped directly to a halfback who would handoff to another back, run it himself, or pass to an end (wide receiver). Green Bay’s first great passer Arner Herber was a halfback, not a QB. The fullback has always been designated as a bigger, bruising back for line plunges and blocking. As time went on the positions of where they were on the field lost relevance, however their purpose did not. In modern times, generally the smaller halfback would line up furthest back, and the fullback was closer to the line for blocking and line plunges. The frequency with which a fullback ran the ball vs. the halfback was merely a product of what kind of offense the team ran. Frank Gifford was the Giants primary runner as a half back. For the Packers, it was Taylor at fullback. The fullback has been almost completley fazed out of modern football with spread, wide open offenses, as the league moves closer and closer to Arena Football.

  35. Sad day, one of the toughest ever. He would rather run through someone vs. around them. Legend has it he was one of the few who was not afraid of the old man. Rest in peace Sir.

  36. He was the real deal. That guy was tough on a scale unknown at this time. He was my hero when I was growing up. Rest in peace, Jim Taylor. You were one of a kind.

  37. Thanksgiving day (Detroit) Packer ball on the Lions 5 yd. line.
    The o-line opens up a hole a truck could drive thru . Taylor crosses
    the goal line , the Lions safety in the back of the end zone comes up then stops because Taylor had already scored . Taylor literally runs over him over and took two steps on his chest .

    First Super Bowl , first play from scrimmage a hand off to Taylor for two yards ,he gets up and punches Buck Buchcannon in the face then walks back to the huddle to sent a message …. THAT WAS JIM TAYLOR !

  38. So true, Snobber. Halfbacks were swift and shifty but could be knocked out by guys like Bednarik.
    >>>>>>><<<<<<<<<
    So true. If Frank Gifford were alive, he'd tell you about Bednarik.

  39. This guy’s career predates me, but I was an NFL Films junkie as a kid. There was a segment on him in one of the videos I owned, and this dude was my kind of back. Rest easy, JT.

  40. Jimmy Taylor is one of the great players to have ever played in the NFL. He could do everything and he was as tough as nails. I think most people have fogotten how great he was and plenty more have no clue who he was.
    R.I.P. Jimmy. I’m sure Vince and his boys will welcome you with open arms.

  41. It’s truly a sad day when another real football player moves on to the gridiron of glory. RIP Mr. Taylor

  42. They won’t post this maybe because they think it’s racist but it is a fact–
    Jim Taylor was the last white guy to lead the NFL in rushing.

    And that was 1962.

  43. Packers linemen would say that if Taylor didn’t like a particular defensive back, he’d ask so the lineman to miss the block so he could “sting” them a little.

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