Monday, December 29, 2014

Pillars of the NFL: Jim Taylor

In Patrick McCaskey's Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships  he covers the ten greatest NFL coaches of all-time.  Among the pillars is Vince Lombardi who coached the Green Bay Packers to five NFL Championships in the 1970s.  Lombardi was one of most gifted coaches who made his mark on NFL history. 

In a series of posts we include some description of Lombardi's players. We  expand on our description here to talk about one of the greatest Packers in history, the mighty Jim Taylor.

Jim Taylor

Jim Taylor was a versatile All-American running back at LSU.  He led the SEC in rushing in 1956 and 1957.  Taylor was a second round selection of the Packers in 1958.  The muscle-bound back loved to initiate contact with defenders.  He lifted weights before it was customary for football players.  He was tough and he gave everything he had in each football game.  He was so competitive that he often grew angry and combative with any defender who dared to tackle him.  In almost any situation if the Packer offense was stalled, they could give the ball to Taylor.  He was exceptional and another Lombardi-era Packer inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

Few running backs had the heart of Jim Taylor.  For those who knew and played with him, he is remembered as the best of the best.

 In his 10-year career, Taylor ran for 1,941 yards on 8,597 carries for 83 touchdowns and an average carry of 4.4 yards.  He caught 225 passes for 1,756 yards and 10 touchdowns.   He gained 10,353 yards from scrimmage.  Taylor put together five straight 1,000-yard seasons from 1960-64. In the 1962 NFL Championship game, Taylor excelled in grueling conditions at Yankee Stadium against the Giants.  On a day when the temperature was 25 but the players battled a 25 mile-an-hour wind,  Taylor scored on a 7-yard run and Jerry Kramer kicked 3 field goals for a Packers' 16-7 victory. Taylor was up against a very tough defense and at half he received stitched from a cut to his head and later he bit his tongue.  He was a bloody mess on the field, but in Taylor-fashion, he was gained 85 yards.

In Jim Taylor's biography, The Fire Within, he talks about he and his two brother's early lives.  Jim's father suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and later heart disease.  His mother was the breadwinner; he and his brothers worked to support his family. They delivered newspapers, cut lawns, sold food on the street corner in the evening and other things to make it work.  Like many other struggling athletes, the game could be much easier than the life he had led. 

See "The Day Dick Butkus Caught a Bobby Douglass Pass for the Win."