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Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Chiefs' Legend Otis Taylor

Taylor passed away on Thursday

It was late in the third quarter of what was brewing to be the greatest upset in the history of professional football, but the result was far from certain. That was when quarterback Len Dawson took the snap before quickly looking to his right and firing a pass to his favorite target for what appeared to be a modest gain.

The defensive back was there in an instant, colliding with Dawson's target as soon as the football arrived. The play was over…until it wasn't. The six-foot-three, 215-pound receiver spun free from the would-be tackler's grasp and escaped for a 46-yard touchdown, essentially sealing the victory.

It was a defining moment that cemented the legitimacy of the American Football League, and at its center – the man galloping downfield who refused to be tackled – was the legendary Otis Taylor.

The stage for Taylor's heroics was simple. The Kansas City Chiefs – the champion of the AFL – were leading the vaunted Minnesota Vikings by nine points in the fourth edition of the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. The Vikings were believed by many to be the greatest team in the history of the game. They led the NFL in points scored, and their defense – the heralded "Purple People Eaters" – yielded the fewest points of any team. Minnesota entered the game, which is now known as Super Bowl IV, as 13.5-point favorites.

Kansas City Chiefs flanker Otis Taylor (89) running with the ball during the Super Bowl IV game against the Minnesota Vikings.

It's for all of those reasons that the Chiefs' slim advantage nearly three quarters through this legendary bout was so improbable. The New York Jets' victory in the previous AFL-NFL World Championship Game was largely regarded as a fluke by the public, but if the Chiefs could knock off the Vikings – who represented the absolute best that the NFL had to offer – the older league's assumed superiority would be a relic of the past.

Taylor's 46-yard touchdown scamper – which also included a terrific juke downfield – was a physical metaphor for exactly that. The AFL was officially on the NFL's level, and professional football was changed forever.

"Otis made my job easy," Dawson once said. "If you got the pass to Otis, you knew he'd catch it."

It was one of the most memorable moments in a career filled with highlights for Taylor, who caught 410 passes for 7,306 yards and 57 touchdowns across 11 seasons while also serving as a tremendous downfield blocker. He was a two-time First Team All-Pro, an AFL All-Star and the UPI AFC Player of the Year in 1971. He led the NFL in receiving yards during the second year of the merger with 1,110, and his 11 touchdown receptions in 1967 led the AFL. To this day, Taylor ranks third in franchise history in receiving yards behind only Tony Gonzalez and Travis Kelce.

Taylor passed away on Thursday at the age of 80, but just as he sprung free for that 46-yard touchdown in Super Bowl IV, Taylor's legacy will continue to gallop throughout franchise history forever.