In this Nov. 22, 1962 photo, Green Bay Packers fullback Jim Taylor (31) is brought down by Detroit Lions’ Dick Lane in the third quarter of an NFL football game in Detroit. (AP Photo/Preston Stroup, File)

In this Nov. 22, 1962 photo, Green Bay Packers fullback Jim Taylor (31) is brought down by Detroit Lions’ Dick Lane in the third quarter of an NFL football game in Detroit. (AP Photo/Preston Stroup, File)

Jim Taylor, Hall of Fame fullback for Packers, dies at 83

Taylor played for the Packers from 1958 to 1966, under the tutelage of coach Vince Lombardi.

  • By Wire Service
  • Saturday, October 13, 2018 12:40pm
  • Sports

By Genaro C. Armas / Associated Press

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 and was voted into the Hall in 1976.

Taylor spent 10 seasons in the NFL after being drafted in the second round out of LSU in 1958. He was part of a backfield that featured Paul Hornung and began to thrive when Lombardi took over in 1959.

“He was a gritty, classic player on the Lombardi teams and a key figure of those great championship runs,” Packers President Mark Murphy said.

“One of the best runners of his era, he later was greatly appreciated by multiple generations of Packers fans during his many returns to Lambeau Field with his fellow alumni.”

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 charging forward no matter the surface underneath, 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 this Dec. 13, 1962 photo, Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi (left) congratulates fullback Jim Taylor in Long Beach, California, after Taylor learned he had been named played of the Year in the National Football League by an Associated Press Committee. (AP Photo/DFS, File)

In this Dec. 13, 1962 photo, Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi (left) congratulates fullback Jim Taylor in Long Beach, California, after Taylor learned he had been named played of the Year in the National Football League by an Associated Press Committee. (AP Photo/DFS, File)

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. He 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.

In this Sept. 28, 2009 photo, Hall of Famer Jim Taylor, from the Green Bay Packers, walks the Vince Lombardi Trophy through the Pro Football Hall of Fame after it was delivered by a Brinks armored car in Canton, Ohio. (Scott Heckel/The Canton Repository via AP, File)

In this Sept. 28, 2009 photo, Hall of Famer Jim Taylor, from the Green Bay Packers, walks the Vince Lombardi Trophy through the Pro Football Hall of Fame after it was delivered by a Brinks armored car in Canton, Ohio. (Scott Heckel/The Canton Repository via AP, File)

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 first-team 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.

“With the ball under his arm, Jimmy Taylor is the finest player I have ever seen,” then-LSU coach Paul Dietzel said.

Taylor retired in Baton Rouge and remained close to the LSU football program. He was inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1974.

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.”

AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in Baton Rouge contributed to this report.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith is hugged by center Austin Blythe, right, after Smith rushed for an 8-yard touchdown during the first half of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Grading the Seahawks’ 48-45 victory over the Lions

Geno Smith and the offense take home the top marks from a wild affair.

Marysville-Pilchuck’s Darren Johnson-Jones, left, tries to block a pass to Miguel Chavez, right, during football practice on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 in Marysville, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Vote for The Herald’s Prep Football Game of the Week

Help pick one of the high school football games we cover Friday… Continue reading

Runners in the 3A-4A Boys 5K turn a corner as the sun sets during the Nike Twilight Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at Cedarcrest Golf Course in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
GALLERY: 15th Annual Nike Twilight XC Invitational

Teams from across the Pacific Northwest descend on Cedarcrest Golf Course in Marysville for the major cross country meet.

Seattle Mariners, including Jarred Kelenic, foreground, Cal Raleigh, second from left, and another player celebrate with fans after the team's baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Seattle. The Mariners won 2-1 to clinch a spot in the playoffs. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Finally!: M’s end 21 years of misery by clinching playoff berth

Baseball is fun again in the Pacific Northwest in a way that it hasn’t been in more than two decades.

The Herald's prep football roundup. (Photo by Elaine Thompson)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 30

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 30: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Stanwood’s Ryder Bumgarner and teammates yell in celebration after winning the Stilly Cup for the first time in 13 years on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Stanwood rolls past Arlington, wins 1st Stilly Cup since 2009

Ryder Bumgarner runs for 246 yards and the unbeaten Spartans defeat their archrival for the 1st time in 13 years.

Sultan’s Derek Feltner takes a handoff from quarterback Westin Galle against Granite Falls on Friday, Sep. 30, 2022, at Sultan High School in Sultan, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Sultan holds on in wild finish, beats rival Granite Falls

The Turks win the Black and Blue Bowl trophy for the first time since 2017.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf, above, makes a catch in the end zone for a touchdown as Atlanta Falcons safety Jaylinn Hawkins defends during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Preview: Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions

The Seahawks hit the road to face the banged-up Lions in a matchup of 1-2 teams.

The AquaSox have the bases load in the first inning against the Vancouver Canadians Tuesday evening at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett June 29th, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Patterson: AquaSox’s facilities need major upgrade

Funko Field’s facilities aren’t up to MLB’s standards, so Everett’s time as a partner with the ESD will likely have to end.

Most Read