Vince Lombardi may be credited as the mastermind of the 'Packers sweep,' but it was 6-foot, 214-pound fullback Jim Taylor who led the way for the Packers' famed ground attack of the early 1960s, eventually retiring as the franchise's all-time leading rusher.
Taylor came to Green Bay in 1958 as a second-round draft pick out of Louisiana State University, joining a backfield that already included halfback Paul Hornung. Lombardi arrived on the scene in 1959, and in 1960, Taylor turned in his first great rushing season, accumulating 1,101 yards.
In Packers history to that point, only Tony Canadeo had crossed the 1,000-yard mark, doing so once in 1949. But Taylor would put together five straight 1,000-yard seasons from 1960-64, part of seven consecutive seasons leading the Packers ground game.
In 1961, Taylor averaged 5.4 yards per carry, picking up 1,307 yards and scoring a league-best 15 touchdowns. His 186-yard rushing performance against the New York Giants (Dec. 3, 1961), stood as his career best.
Taylor's finest season came one year later, when he maintained his 5.4-yard average en route to a 1,474-yard, 19-touchdown effort over just 14 games. Not until John Brockington in 1975 would a Packers player score more rushing touchdowns (20). Not until Ahman Green in 2003 would a Packers player pick up more rushing yards (1,883).
In the title game that season, played amongst 40-mile per hour winds and 13-degree temperatures at Yankee Stadium, Taylor scored the contest's only touchdown, a 7-yarder in the Packers' 16-7 victory over the Giants. It was a game that epitomized Taylor's toughness, picking up 85 yards against the Giants' powerhouse defense despite an elbow gash that required seven stitches at halftime and a lacerated tongue.
Taylor earned MVP honors that season and was a consensus All-Pro. He was also voted to the Pro Bowl, an honor he received each season from 1960-64.
The 1962 championship was one of four won by the Packers in Taylor's tenure (1961, '62, '65 and '66).
Four seasons later, facing the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl I (Jan. 15, 1967), Taylor's 14-yard touchdown run in the second quarter marked the first rushing touchdown in Super Bowl history.
For his Packers career, Taylor had 26 100-yard rushing games and 8,207 rushing yards. Not until Green would a Packers player approach either number.
During his Packers career, Taylor wore jersey number 31. He finished his NFL career with a one-year stint with the New Orleans Saints in 1967.
James Charles Taylor was born September 20, 1935, in Baton Rouge, La.
Taylor's Career Stats courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau:
From The Archives:
A letter from Jim Taylor to personnel and scouting director Jim Vainisi - Nov. 19, 1957
Dear Mr. Vainisi,
Reference to your letter dated November 11, 1957.
I am very much interested in playing professional football. Football is a great sport and I enjoy playing it. Yes, I would be interested in playing with the Green Bay Packers. My military status is 1A Category 4. Yes, I will be able to play pro ball before entering the service. I prefer playing in either the United States or Canada. Fullback is the position I feel I can play better.
Baton Rouge - La.