The combination of size and speed led to greatness and success that helped shape the build of future of receivers in the NFL.
When a 6’3″ wide receiver was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1965, few knew the cultural impact he would have on the game of football.
But with his large frame out wide, Otis Taylor would have that impact, both in his playing career with historic numbers and being a model frame for the future greats at receiver.
Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, Terrell Owens, and Julio Jones were all listed 6’2″ or over. That larger athletic size for receivers was helped to be normalized in professional football by Taylor and others.
Despite playing in a more physical run-heavy league, Taylor was able to put up record-setting numbers that would result in championship level play for the Chiefs.
In just his second season, Taylor was already a top-caliber receiver in the American Football League, being just three yards short of 1,300 yards with 58 receptions and eight touchdowns.
Taylor broke the single-season receiving yards record for the Chiefs. That remained the record until Carlos Carson broke the record by 39 yards in 1983. Taylor’s season is currently the fifth-highest single-season total, according to Sports Reference.
That next season, Taylor picked up right where he left off. Taylor hauled in a career-high 11 touchdowns in 1967, leading the AFL in receiving touchdowns, according to Sports Reference.
The next three seasons saw a reduced production. However, Taylor remained an end zone threat still, scoring 15 total touchdowns from 1968-1970. Taylor’s success in the regular season was backed up by their world championship run in 1969.
As the Chiefs won the AFL championship over the Oakland Raiders, they would get to play in the Super Bowl against a very talented Minnesota Vikings team. Taylor left his mark on the field with a touchdown on six catches with 81 yards, according to Football Database.
Taylor has remained in high regard in the Chiefs record book, being the runner up in both all-time receiving yards with 7,306 and receiving touchdowns with 57.
Even in an era of football that did not rely on the passing game as much, Taylor was able to defy the odds and has remained very high in the Chiefs record books. With his size and athleticism, he opened the door to the future generations of receivers that would go on to be the greatest to ever play.
With his impact, both in the league and after his retirement in 1975, Taylor remains the most decorated and successful Chief to not be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Despite that, Taylor is represented in the Chiefs Ring of Honor and no other Chief will wear 89 again.