Charley Taylor, a Hall of Fame wide receiver and running back who helped lead Washington to playoff berths and a Super Bowl appearance, passed away Feb. 19. He was 80.
Taylor, who was drafted No. 3 overall by Washington in the 1964 NFL Draft, had a decorated 14-year career with the franchise. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler with a First Team All-Pro selection in 1967. He was part of the Hall of Fame's All-1960s team, and he was selected as the AP and UPI Rookie of the Year in 1964. He was selected to the Hall of Fame in 1984.
"Taylor is probably the greatest natural player I've ever seen," head coach Bill McPeak said of Taylor after he won his Rookie of the Year honors. "He combines power, speed and fine open field moves."
Taylor was born Sept. 28, 1941, in Grand Prairie, Texas, and played high school football at Dalworth High School. He was a multi-sport athlete, playing football and baseball in addition to competing for the track team. He received All-State honors in track and football.
Taylor played college football at Arizona State and was a running back and defensive back. He was a standout for the Sun Devils, racking up nearly 2,000 total yards and 25 touchdowns while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. In his final season with the program, he competed in the College All-Star game against the Chicago Bears in 1964 and was voted as the Most Valuable Player.
In addition to being drafted by Washington, Taylor was also drafted No. 9 overall by the Houston Oilers in the 1964 AFL Draft. Taylor chose to sign with Washington, and it didn't take long for him to show he was worth such a high pick. He put up 1,569 yards and 10 touchdowns in his rookie season, becoming the first rookie in two decades to finish as a Top 10 rusher (sixth with 755 yards) and receiver (eighth with 814 yards). The production also earned him a Pro Bowl selection that season.
Taylor went on to make the next three Pro Bowls and put up at least 900 total yards in each season. He led the league in 1966 and 1967 with 72 and 70 receptions, respectively, and in that span he amassed 2,109 yards in addition to 21 touchdowns. In 1967, when he accounted for 990 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, Taylor received his only First Team All-Pro selection.
Taylor made the Pro Bowl four more times from 1972-75. He led Washington with 673 receiving yards in 1972, when the team finished 11-3 and played against the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VII. Washington advanced to the postseason again in 1973 and 1974, and Taylor was the team's top receiver in each season.
Taylor retired as the NFL's all-time leading receiver with 649 receptions for 9,110 yards and 79 touchdowns. The record stood for seven years, until it was broken in 1984 by Charlie Joiner. He earned first- or second-team All-NFL honors six times. He still holds the franchise record with 79 receiving touchdowns and 90 overall touchdowns.
Taylor second in franchise history in receptions, receiving yards and scrimmage yards (10,598). He is one of five players in NFL history with 5,000-plus receiving yards, 1,000-plus rushing yards and 80-plus total touchdowns. He joins Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk, Bobby Mitchell, Lenny Moore and Marcus Allen as the only players to accomplish the feat. He is one of 12 players in NFL history with 5,000-plus receiving yards and 1,000-plus rushing yards.
He is the only player in franchise history with 5,000-plus receiving yards and 1,000-plus rushing yards. (Bobby Mitchell accomplished these statistics but also played for the Cleveland Browns. Taylor is the only to do this with the Washington franchise).
Taylor worked as a part of Washington's front office with Bobby Mitchell as a scout and was eventually hired by Joe Gibbs as the team's receivers coach. In total, Taylor spent three decades with the franchise.
"I would like to say that I had some of the greatest and most moral support that one player could have in a lifetime," Taylor said in his Hall of Fame speech, "and I had it in Washington."