Chiefs great Otis Taylor dies at 80

Kansas City Chiefs Otis Taylor
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Otis Taylor, a speedy wide receiver who spent 11 seasons with the Chiefs, has died at the age of 80.

“The Kansas City Chiefs organization is saddened by the passing of Otis Taylor,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said. “My family and I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Otis’ wife Regina, his sister Odell and the entire Taylor family as we mourn his passing. Otis was a Chief throughout his 11-year career, and he played an integral part in the early success of our franchise. He became a Kansas City icon with his signature touchdown in Super Bowl IV, as he helped the Chiefs bring home our first Lombardi Trophy. He was one of the most dynamic receivers of his era, and he helped revolutionize the position. Off-the-field, he was kind and dedicated to his community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Otis’ legacy will live forever as a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame.”

After playing his college football at Prairie View A&M, Taylor was drafted by both the Eagles in the 1965 NFL draft and the Chiefs in the 1965 AFL draft. In those days, the NFL and AFL fiercely fought each other for players, and the legend of Taylor ending up with the Chiefs is that NFL officials put Taylor up in a hotel room while trying to sign him, and used guards to keep AFL officials away. But longtime Chiefs scout Lloyd Wells found out where Taylor was staying, sneaked past security, and got to Taylor with a contract that he signed.

Taylor’s play made him well worth the trouble it took to sign him. As a rookie he scored five touchdowns, and in his second season he led the AFL with an average of 22.4 yards per catch while helping the Chiefs reach Super Bowl I. After the AFL-NFL merger, Taylor proved he was as good a wide receiver as there was in football, in either league. In his best season, 1971, he led the NFL with 1,110 receiving yards and finished second in Associated Press MVP voting, still the highest any wide receiver has ever finished.

But for all of Taylor’s big plays, perhaps his best-known play was an ugly fight with Raiders defensive end Ben Davidson in 1970. Davidson delivered a cheap shot to Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson just as the Chiefs had secured a game-winning first down, Taylor retaliated and started a fight with the much bigger Davidson, a brawl broke out, and the result was offsetting penalties that negated the first down, forcing the Chiefs to punt and leading to a Raiders game-winning field goal that resulted in the Raiders winning the division and the Chiefs just missing the playoffs. The next offseason, the NFL changed its rules so that offsetting personal foul penalties after a play would not negate the result of the play.

Taylor was also known for an incident during the 1987 players’ strike, long after Taylor retired, when he was working for the Chiefs as a scout. Chiefs linebacker Jack Del Rio saw Taylor reporting to work, mistook Taylor for one of the scabs the owners had signed to replace the striking players, and attacked him. Taylor sued Del Rio and the suit was settled out of court.

Taylor has long been viewed as a strong candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Last year he was chosen as a semifinalist by the Hall of Fame’s seniors committee.

20 responses to “Chiefs great Otis Taylor dies at 80

  1. Otis Taylor is one of my all time favorite players. He should be in the Pro Football HOF.

  2. This says as much about Jack Del Rio as it does about OT. Maybe Del Rio could be forgiven if he would simply own up to having been simply an ignorant, pugnacious fool who did not recognize one of the early greats of the AFL. If he has in fact done that, then, sorry, but we have not heard that he has.

  3. RIP Otis Taylor

    A strong, physical receiver who starred on running teams, being their best outside player. Deserving of the HOF, who could also make one-handed catches and clutch in postseason.

  4. Great player. One of the early great TE/WR hybrid types. “Just keep matriculating the ball down the field”…He was a big part of those early Chiefs teams.


  5. He was an amazing player. At a time when DBs could hang on you, and do most anything to disrupt the pass, Otis could make plays through his size and strength. He really was the forerunner of next generation WR.

    Class act through and through, rest in peace.

  6. I wonder how often OT regretted signing with KC when he could have signed with the Cowboys. Bob Hayes/OT together would have been so hard to defend.

  7. Caught the pass in the right flat on a 7 man blitz, stiff armed Earsall Mackbee ( who, in his defense, had an injured shoulder ), faked Karl Kassulke inside, and waltzed high stepping into the end zone. Gary Larsen trailed and hustled, but was never close.
    His signature play to clinch SB IV.

  8. Aww man, another of the old AFL greats gone. I’ll never forget that TD against the Vikings in the Super Bowl. Awesome. RIP #89.

  9. As a fan of the original AFL, I really liked me some Otis Taylor when he wasn’t playing against my favorite team.
    Grossly underrated and didn’t have the flashy numbers that people today think are the only measure of greatness.
    Should be a HOFer. Gaudy numbers aren’t everything.

  10. So Del Rio atta ked a guy in 87 who was drafted in 65 because he thought he was a scan player?

  11. SB IV was one of the most iconic games in NFL history and Otis Taylor made one of the most important plays in that game. Should most definitely be in the HOF. RIP to Mr. Taylor and condolences to the Taylor family.

  12. Otis was a beast and should be in the NFL.
    My favorite growing, thus my username.

  13. Leave it to the Hof to do the right thing one year late(as they will undoubtedly vote him in next)

    Rip OT.

  14. What an interesting story of how he got signed to the Chiefs. Wasn’t even born when he and Dawson were the cornerstones of the club, but thankful nonetheless to have some greats like him as a part of the history of the team. RIP Otis!

  15. sugarbears says:
    March 10, 2023 at 2:33 pm
    I wonder how often OT regretted signing with KC when he could have signed with the Cowboys. Bob Hayes/OT together would have been so hard to defend.
    How bout never…..

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