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Throwback Thursday: Charley Taylor

Posted by Stephen Czarda on June 13, 2013 – 2:24 pm

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Over the next few weeks we will be looking back on some Redskins greats for their heroics on the field as well as off of it. With 42 days until the start of training camp I looked back at the magnificent career of Charley Taylor. 

The current Washington Redskins squad is one of the most exciting teams to watch in terms of pure offensive power thanks in large part to the fireworks of duel-threat Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris’ touchdown swings.

Behind the shadows of the two second year stars is a man who has been through it all with Redskins Nation over the past eight seasons—Santana Moss.

Moss became a fan favorite the minute he arrived from the Big Apple after the Redskins acquired him via trade with the New York Jets.

In his first season in our Nation’s Capital No. 89 joined the ranks of Art Monk, Bobby Mitchell and Charley Taylor after accumulating just a shade under 1,500 yards.

If Moss can rack up another 2,000 yards before hanging up his gear, he will pass Taylor for second place on the Redskins all-time receiving yards list—an incredible feat when you remember the greatness of the 1984 Hall of Fame inductee.

This is the (brief) story of No. 42.

Before making his way to the DMV area Taylor played collegiately for Arizona State University where he led the Sun Devils to a 30-8-1 record and was selected as an All-American twice.

The Redskins struggled during the 1963 season as they ranked dead last in the league in overall defense, rushing yards, and turnover ratio.

The ground game epitomized the Burgundy and Gold’s struggles as their backs mustered a measly 92.1 rushing yards per game during a period when NFL teams relied heavily on ground game production.

The solution to their woes was simple—draft Taylor with the third overall pick in the 1964 NFL Draft.

With Taylor, newly acquired quarterback Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgensen and Mitchell firmly entrenched as the Redskins’ top receiving threat the Redskins quickly rose to prominence.

In his first season Taylor’s unthinkable output far exceeded what could have only been dreamed of for a rookie tailback—755 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns, 814 receiving yards and an additional five end zone trips.

His debut campaign was one for the record books as his NFL Hall of Fame profile lets you know.

The 6-3, 210-pounder won Rookie of the Year acclaim as a running back and became the first rookie in 20 years to finish in the NFL’s top 10 in both rushing (sixth with 755 yards) and receiving (eight with 53 catches for 814 yards). His 53 receptions were a record for running backs at that time.

In 1966 former quarterback legend Otto Graham accepted his first head coaching job when he was tapped as the 15th coach in Redskins history.

When Graham retired in 1955 he ranked near the top of every statistical passing category to include touchdowns with 174. So when he decided to move Taylor out wide, few questioned the move (besides I’m sure Graham would have loved to have had Taylor and Mitchell at his disposal).

To say Taylor thrived in his new position would be a complete understatement.

For a team that recorded its best record in 11 years, the former Sun Devil racked up a career-high 1,119 yards and the second most receiving touchdowns in the league (12).

In 1972 Taylor finally had an opportunity to show everyone just how special of a player he was when the Burgundy and Gold made their first Super Bowl appearance.

The Redskins would record an NFC-high 11 regular season wins to include a 7-1 division record behind a lethal tandem of quarterbacks in Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer. The two quarterbacks combined to throw 21 touchdowns, a third of which can be credited to Taylor.

After destroying the Cowboys 26-3 in the NFC Championship (Taylor recorded two touchdowns) the Redskins were set for a date with the undefeated Miami Dolphins and their top rated defense.

While Washington would ultimately be Miami’s final victim en route to the only undefeated season, without Taylor’s contributions they may have never made it to the big game to begin with.

When Taylor decided to retire following the 1977 season, he had accrued every Redskins receiving record. While Monk would pass Taylor’s yardage mark during his amazing career, no man in the Redskins 80-year history has come remotely close to his 79 touchdowns.

For those of you who were blessed with the opportunity to watch the eight-time Pro Bowler make opposing corner look silly week in and week out, please let us know your favorite memory of one of the 80 Greatest Redskins.

Hail to the Redskins!


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2 Responses to “Throwback Thursday: Charley Taylor”

  1. By Chuck on Jun 13, 2013 | Reply

    There were many, but two stand out.

    One was at Charley’s expense. Sonny Jurgensen hit Taylor on the numbers at a crucial point in a game, but Charley muffed on the catch. The Redskins lost the game, if I remember correctly. After the game a reporter asked Sonny what Charley said on returning to the huddle. Sonny replied “He said “was that meant for me, Sonny?'”

    But no question the greatest memory was Taylor’s catch of a long pass from Billy Kilmer in the ’72 NFC Championship game against the Cowboys that pretty much sealed the deal. That day was the loudest I ever heard RFK, which could be very loud, particularly in the George Allen era. True we lost that Super Bowl to the perfect-season Dolphins, but truth be told I think for Redskin fans, and quite possibly for the Redskins themselves, in those days, beating Dallas in the NFC was a significantly more passionate goal.

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