The Pro Football Hall of Fame has left out a lot of legends from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Here are the reasons.
Number one would be lack of statistics. On the defensive side of the ball, sacks were not counted. For wide receivers, the games weren’t as wide open as it is today. A receiver that averaged 60 catches a season gets overlooked. Nowadays it’s the norm for the best receivers to have 80,90, or even 100 catches a season. The rules were much different for defensive backs in the 60’s and most of the 70’s. A defensive back was allowed to make contact for a much longer period of time – making it much more difficult on a receiver.
I bring this all up because I think one of the greatest receivers of all-time has been passed over for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That receiver’s name is Otis Taylor. Today I want to take a closer look at Taylor’s career and explain why he deserves to be celebrated with the greatest players of the game.
How good a player was Taylor? Who better to ask than a guy who lined up against him. I talked to former Cincinnati Bengals legend Lemar Parrish about what it was like defending Taylor. Parrish, who should be in the Hall of Fame as well, said some revealing things about Taylor.
“Being one of the best cornerbacks to play the game, I never wanted to play against Otis,” said Parrish.”Because I was nervous that that was someone that could beat me anytime. And even if I was on my a game, there was always that possibility of him beating anybody.”
Parrish was an eight-time Pro Bowler and one of the best boundary defenders of the 1970s, so his words carry weight. Taylor’s abilties made him very nervous. Trust me, from interviewing Parrish he is not a humble man when it comes to his own abilities. It shocked me to hear him say this about Taylor.
Most arguments against Taylor start off with the fact that people still doubt his numbers from the first half of his career – because he played in the rival AFL. But that argument is a load of crap. In Taylor’s first season in the NFL – after the merger in 1971, he piled up an NFL-best 1,110 receiving yards and averaged a league-high 79.3 receiving yards per game.
There’s the “volume” thing also: Taylor’s 410 career receptions rank just 200th all-time in NFL annals. His 7,306 receiving yards rank 108th; his 57 receiving touchdowns are 86th. Among the major career signposts, in only one — yards per catch (17.8) — does he sit among the NFL top 40 (34th).
But in comparison lets look at another wide reciever that played around the same time. That player was Lynn Swann. The Pittsburgh Steeler standout recorded 336 catches, 5,462 receiving yards and 51 touchdown receptions over nine seasons. Those stats are not as good as Taylor’s. People will scream “Super Bowl” in regards to Swann. He did make two acrobatic catches to help the Steelers win the Super Bowl.
What about in Super Bowl IV when Taylor caught a short pass from Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson and raced the length of the field with a game-sealing touchdown? The play was so dramatac that it’s replayed every year during Super Bowl week.
Parrish makes no bones about it. Taylor should be in Hall of Fame.
“They got this all wrong,” Parrish said. Otis Taylor is one of the greatest receivers that has ever been. I’ll tell you what, those guys are just doing it all wrong about the Hall of Fame. Otis Taylor should be in the Hall of Fame. In fact, he should have been in (at the first opportunity).”
From talking to Parrish and watching old films, if Taylor played under today’s rules he would catch 100 balls per season. When I started writing this article my opinion was that Taylor was a hall of famer. Doing the research for ths piece did change my opinion. I first thought he belonged in the Hall of Fame. Now I would put him on my list of the ten greatest receivers to ever play the game.
Taylor is in ill health battling Parkinson’s and dementia. Maybe the NFL and the voters for the Hall of Fame could do the right thing – like they did with the long deserving Jerry Kramer and Robert Brazile.
Otis Taylor deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
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