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Otis Taylor: A Remembrance

Taylor passed away on Thursday

The impact of most sports stars recedes, for the sports business is one of the temporal enthusiasms, and standards of who rates star power change nearly as much as standards of beauty.

But to a great extent, Otis Taylor's name remains, his image immediately recognizable if for no other reason than his legendary gait as he scored the touchdown that cemented the Chiefs' victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. Of course, the support for his candidacy for Pro Football Hall of Fame membership has been in full force for years now, and was only recently the subject of another effort to get him there before his demise.

Taylor was a rich character hiding in plain sight — earthy and warm, a tough guy by blood and by temperature, full of skill and grace — the predecessor to Jerry Rice, many scouts said years later after he retired.

His fame was magnified during the ongoing war between the American Football League and National Football League. The story of his signing with the Chiefs quickly became the stuff of legend as he was whisked away through a motel window by Kansas City scout Lloyd Wells and out of the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, who were hiding him in an effort to later sign him to a contract.

Taylor did not disappoint and he went on to a marvelous 10-year career in Kansas City. He received his most fulsome public tribute following the team's Super Bowl victory. It was the beginning of an acclamation that would reach unprecedented proportions from 1971 until 1972 when he was named to consecutive Pro Bowls, was a first time All-Pro, and led the league in receiving.

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Paul Wiggin celebrates with Ken Avery (53) and Otis Taylor (89) after a 1975 NFL football game.

Taylor can count two of the greatest catches in franchise history and a photo that is also part of the team's folklore. Repeated footage of a high stepping Taylor romping his way to the end zone in Super Bowl IV is seen every year come championship week, but no catch was more important than the one he made in the AFL's final championship game in Oakland.

With his team stuck deep near its own end zone, Taylor made a spectacular stretching sideline grab from quarterback Len Dawson to help the Chiefs dig out of a desperate situation. A later photograph identified as Taylor drawing up the play in the dirt with Dawson continues to evoke memories of an earlier time and a simpler game. It has been misidentified, however, and comes from another game.

Taylor joins a list of other great Chiefs n who have passed over the last two years to include the quarterback, Len Dawson, who had done his part to make him famous.

Taylor never received the honor of a Pro Football Hall of Fame membership, passing away after a lengthy illness where he was bedridden for many years.

Memory fades, survivors and eyewitnesses leave the scene, and new days of remembrance are instated.