Throughout the “By the (Jersey) Numbers” series, there have been close contests and “no contests.”
The fight for #42 is as clear-cut an example of the latter as you’ll find.
Charley Taylor began his career as what we might today call a dual-threat back. In the mid-60s, he was a running back who caught a lot of passes.
The #3 overall pick in the 1964 NFL Draft out of Arizona State, Taylor made an immediate impact for the Redskins. He won Rookie of the Year honors after amassing 1,569 yards from scrimmage during the 14-game 1964 season. He made the Pro Bowl each of his first three years, but, by 1966, he was officially a full-time wideout.
In fact, 1967 turned out to be arguably his best year, as Taylor earned first-team All-Pro honors for the first time. It was his second consecutive season leading the NFL in receiving as well.
Taylor continued to put up good numbers for Washington, remaining in the elite tier of NFL receivers even after turning 30. He put together a streak of four straight Pro Bowls from age 31 through age 34, helping the Redskins to their first Super Bowl in the process.
After playing his final game in 1977, Taylor became a scout for the Redskins. When Joe Gibbs took over head coaching duties in 1981, he picked Taylor to be his wide receivers coach, a position Taylor held for over a decade.
Although he wasn’t able to get a world championship ring as a player, Taylor won three as an assistant coach. He also earned induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984, as well as later (obviously) being named one of the 70 Greatest Redskins.
Taylor finished his playing career with 10,598 yards from scrimmage (9,110 receiving yards), 649 receptions, and 90 touchdowns. Those numbers may only seem moderately impressive when judged against the greats of the modern era, but keep in mind that Taylor played his entire career before the NFL fairly dramatically changed its rules in 1978 in order to help offenses—particularly passing offenses.
Taylor stands alone among the players to wear #42 for the Washington Redskins.
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