Jim Taylor dies

Lombardi fullback bull rushed into HOF

Mike Clemens
October 13, 2018 - 1:52 pm

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports © Copyright Malcolm Emmons

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Green Bay, WI - "I wanted to attack the tackler." Former Packers fullback Jim Taylor as died. The team says he died unexpectedly Saturday at a hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Taylor recently celebrated his 83rd birthday last month. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the 6 foot, 215lbs. second round pick out of LSU was drafted by the Packers in 1958 and for the next nine seasons #31 ran along side #5 Paul Hornung.

Both ran all the way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Think about that. A backfield with Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, and Jimmy Taylor. All three in the Hall of Fame. 

Taylor ran THROUGH people behind the famous Vince Lombardi "Power Sweep." 

He defined the position of fullback in the NFL. 

Taylor is one of those players who if you put his profile in silhouette, you could still identify him. The ball securely tucked away in his left arm. The arms and hands thrashing forward. The pads and helmet down. The facemask pointed to "daylight" - what ever crease his offensive lineman could open for him at the line of scrimmage. 

"He was tough, durable, and always in top physical condition," according to teammate Bill Curry, who played center for the Packers, and went on to become a coach and sportscaster. 

As a retired player Taylor made several trips a year back to Wisconsin to sign autographs, attend dinners. Usually there was an appearance fee involved. He occasionally came back to team alum gatherings. Just not as often as his other Lombardi era teammates. 

"Jimmy was great," says former Packer and 105.7 FM The FAN's Gary Ellerson who attends team community functions year around. "Jimmy was friendly, outgoing. Very direct. Very focused. Jimmy looked and acted like he could go out back out there and play again. He was ready!" 

Taylor was direct, straightforward, at times gnarly. He was friendly and polite to fans who stood in line to have their photo taken with him. But he didn't mince words. If Taylor had an opinion on something - he'd tell it like it is. He probably laughed at the recent "using the helmet" rules the NFL has added to the rule book. 

Jimmy Taylor made a career out of lowering his helmet, shoulder pads - his entire body - to cut through defenders for a first down. A touchdown at the goal line. He was not going to be denied. 

"He was so tough," says John Dodds of Dodds On Sports. "In the 1962 NFL Championship game, Giants linebacker Sam Huff hit Taylor through the line repeatedly under the chin, under the facemask. You can see on the film Taylor after the whistle shoving Huff back, almost getting into a fight. It was brutally cold that day at Yankee Stadium. Some of the Packers players said it was actually worse than the Ice Bowl because of the winds. On one play Sam Huff hit Jimmy Taylor so hard on the chin, that Taylor started coughing up blood. He'd bit his tongue and it was bleeding profusely. Starr and the players urged him to go to the sidelines and have it sewn up, but he refused to leave the huddle. He played through, with blood all over his face and jersey in the cold. That's how tough a guy Taylor was." 

The Packers won 16 - 7.

Chet Coppock, the famous Chicago area sportscaster once had Taylor on as a guest on his late night sports talk show on AM 1000. It was around 1998. Coppock asked "Jimmy, what are your thoughts about this Packers quarterback these days, Brett Favre?"

Taylor said "Love him. Absolutely love him. He's a competitor. He's tough. I've met him and just think the world about him. I love that he plays week after week, regardless if he's banged up or not. He just loves to play the game."

And then Taylor being Taylor, took the next step. "Hell, I wish he'd a been my quarterback."

"What?" said Coppock. "You had Bart Starr as a quarterback. A Hall of Famer. One of the best to ever play the game. Why would you say such a thing Jimmy?"

"Well, sure Bart was good. But you know, Bart would take off sometimes. If we were up by a couple of scores, and his shoulder might be bothering him a little, or some other little something or another, Bart wouldn't hesitate to have Zeke (Bratkowski, back-up QB) come in and finish out the game. That's just Bart." 

It was jaw dropping. No one ever dared take a shot at Bart Starr. 

Except for Jimmy Taylor. Straightforward. And direct. On a powerhouse radio station that covered 38 states across the U.S..

Cliff Christl saw Lombardi's Packers play at City Stadium as a kid in the 60's. He covered the team as a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. One of the very best. Read on about Jimmy Taylor from Cliff, who now serves as the Packers team historian.  READ MORE

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