It’s time for Otis Taylor to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Last week Chiefs Kingdom received the sad news that legendary Kansas City wide receiver Otis Taylor had passed away at the age of 80. Alongside Len Dawson and a host of other Pro Football Hall of Fame players, Taylor helped bring the Lombardi Trophy to Kansas City for the first time during Super Bowl IV.
There’s just one problem: Taylor isn’t a Hall of Famer. He’s enshrined in the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame, but to date, he has not been recognized as one of the all-time greats. that’s really a shame.
Because his playing career was well over 50 years ago, most Chiefs fans today may not know about Otis Taylor, his career, and one defining moment that changed NFL rules, and thereby NFL history.
The career of Otis Taylor
Taylor was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1965 AFL Draft. But they weren’t the only professional football team who wanted him. The Philadelphia Eagles of the rival NFL also attempted to draft Taylor at the time. Ultimately, Otis decided to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs after a bizarre incident where he had to sneak out of a hotel window to ‘escape’ NFL scouts and was signed by a Kansas City scout.
Once his playing career began, Otis was almost an instant star with the Chiefs, becoming an All-Pro in his second season with a league-leading 22.4 yards per reception. The next season he led the league with 11 touchdowns.
Taylor continued to be a star for nearly his entire 10-year career, which was entirely with the Chiefs. But his best season came during the 1969 season when he helped lead the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl win. That season Taylor led the league with 1110 yards.
Taylor also had this ridiculous play that season when he caught a pass from quarterback Mike Livingston and took the ball 79 yards and then lateraled it to Robert Holmes who took it the rest of the way to the end zone. At the time, that 93-yard reception was the longest in Chiefs history.
All-in-all, Taylor finished his career with 7306 receiving yards, 57 touchdowns, and 17.8 yards per reception. He was an All-Pro twice, a two-time pro bowler, and Super Bowl Champion.
A play that changed NFL history
NFL Hall of Famers are enshrined because of the impact they made on professional football. This is typically seen through exquisite talent and raw stats. But that’s not always the case.
Based purely on stats, players like Joe Namath and Troy Aikman should not be Hall of Famers. But they are, because, beyond the stats, Joe Namath put the AFL on the map with ‘The Guarantee’ that the Jets would win Super Bowl III against the Baltimore Colts and Troy Aikman ultimately won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys.
When it comes to impact on NFL history, Otis Taylor certainly made one when he was involved in a fight during a game against the Oakland Raiders in 1970.
The play became one of the earliest rivalry moments between the Chiefs and Raiders. Quarterback Len Dawson scrambled on third down and picked up the first. But after going down, Raider Ben Davidson speared Dawson with the crown of his helmet well after the play was over. (You can watch the play in this documentary on Davidson, with the play starting at about the 2:00 minute mark.)
Like any good teammate would (or should) do, Taylor immediately tackled Davidson and started swinging. The benches cleared and a brawl ensued. Offsetting penalties were called. No problem right? Wrong. Under league rules at the time, Dawson’s first down run was nullified and the Chiefs were forced to replay third down.
They ultimately had to punt, which allowed the Raiders to tie the game. Because the game ended in a tie, the Raiders finished the season with a one-game lead in the standings to win the AFC West, sending them to the playoffs and leaving the Chiefs (the defending champs) out of the dance altogether.
One play, and one fight, changed an entire season, and NFL history. It was so significant, that the following year the NFL changed how penalties are enforced, based on if they occur during or after a play is over. And it’s been that way ever since.
The 1969 Chiefs had no less than seven future Hall of Famers playing for them. The latest of which was Johnny Robinson. Yet missing from the list is Otis Taylor which is a tragic mistake. Even after his playing career, Otis continued to help the Chiefs when he became a scout (which even got him assaulted by Jack Del Rio one time. Yes, that Jack Del Rio.) Taylor never got to hear his name called to Canton, and that’s a damn shame. His family and Chiefs Kingdom should though.