Charley Taylor, Washington football legend and Hall of Fame wide receiver, dies at 80

Charley Taylor, a Hall of Fame wide receiver who played his entire career in Washington, has died, the club announced Saturday. He was 80 years old.

One of the most important figures in franchise history, Taylor was named to eight Pro Bowls during his 14-year career. In a season that Deebo Samuel would emulate almost 60 years later, Taylor won Rookie of the Year honors in 1964 after catching 53 passes for 814 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 755 yards and five touchdowns. Taylor led the NFL in receptions during the 1966 and 1967 seasons before being named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1960s.

“We are incredibly saddened to hear the news of the passing of the great Charley Taylor,” Washington owners Dan and Tanya Snyder said in a statement. “He represented the organization with excellence and class. … Charley was a great man and will be greatly missed by all. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Patricia and the entire Taylor family during this time.”

Consistency and durability were two of the things that made Taylor truly unique as a player. Half of his Pro Bowl selections have come after Taylor turned 30. At 31, Taylor received his fifth Pro Bowl nod while helping Washington win its first NFC title with a 26-3 victory over the rival Cowboys. Taylor scored two touchdowns in the win which included a 45-yard reception to start the fourth quarter. He retired as the NFL’s all-time leader with 649 receptions while racking up for 9,110 yards and 79 touchdowns.

“To be a total football player, you have to play every game,” Taylor said, “and I love playing every game.”

A member of the Washington Ring of Fame and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984, Taylor worked in the team’s scouting department under Bobby Mitchell before being named the team’s receivers coach in 1981, the first season of Joe Gibbs as head coach.

“He gets along so well with the players and they feel like they can come up to him and talk about their issues,” Gibbs said after appointing Taylor as receivers coach. “It will be good for him because when it comes time to make a career decision, whether he wants to be a coach or a scout, he will have the right background to make the right choice.

“He’ll know where he really belongs. And now I think he’ll find coaching is his future. He’s really good at it.”

Gibbs was right. In 13 seasons as the team’s wide receivers coach, Taylor won three Super Bowls as Washington established itself as one of the NFL’s top teams. Taylor has mentored several talented receivers, including Hall of Famer Art Monk, Gary Clark, Ricky Sanders and Charlie Brown.

As talented as these receivers are, none of them are as good as Washington’s first big wide.

“Charley Taylor, hands down, to me, is the best I’ve ever seen,” Clark once said of Taylor the player. “I’m glad I didn’t have to compete with him to make the team.”

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