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Sports Then and Now

Otis Taylor: KC’s Game-Breaker

Posted on November 30, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Otis Taylor

Otis Taylor

The December Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was once famously shuffled out of a window during the AFL-NFL player wars and went on to become one of the top big-play receivers of his era.

After playing college football at the tiny, historically black, Prairie View A&M University, Otis Taylor was selected in the 1965 draft by both the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL and Philadelphia Eagles from the NFL. He ultimately signed with the Chiefs and became a key weapon for a Kansas City team that appeared in two of the first four Super Bowls.

In today’s NFL receivers of Taylor’s size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) are common place, but in the 1960s Taylor was one of the few big and physical receivers in the league.

After catching 26 passes as a rookie, Taylor emerged in 1966 as the best big play receiver in the AFL. He caught 58 passes for 1,297 yards and a league leading 22.4 yards per catch. He earned first team All-AFL honors as the Chiefs won the AFL title and played the Green Bay Packers in the first Super Bowl.

The next season, Taylor had a career-high 59 catches for 958 yards and a league leading 11 touchdowns.

Injuries limited the physical receiver to just 11 games per season in both 1968 and 1969, but when in the lineup he was still a key weapon for Len Dawson averaging 21 yards per catch on 20 receptions in 1968 and catching 41 passes for 696 yards and seven touchdowns in 1969.

The Chiefs claimed the AFC Championship following the 1969 season and Taylor played a big part in playoff wins over the Jets and Raiders as he averaged 25 yards per reception.

In Super Bowl IV, the Chiefs were leading 16-7 in the third quarter when Taylor put the game away by breaking a tackle on a short pass at the line of scrimmage and scampering 46 yards to the decisive touchdown. He finished the game with six receptions for 81 yards.

Taylor had another All-Pro season in 1971 when he caught 57 passes for an NFL best 1,110 yards and seven touchdowns. The next season he reached his third Pro Bowl after catching 57 passes for 821 yards.

Because receivers during his era did not put up the video game statistics of receivers of today, Taylor’s 410 career receptions for 7,306 yards (17.8 ypc) and 57 touchdowns seem quite pedestrian compared to modern receivers. However, Taylor was one of the dominant receivers of his era and is certainly worthy of Hall of Fame consideration.

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