It's never too late to right a wrong, and in the case of legendary wide receiver Otis Taylor, the Pro Football Hall of Fame recently moved one step closer to finally recognizing one of the greatest players in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Taylor was named a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2023 last week, joining a group that included 24 other nominees in the "Senior" category, which consists of players whose careers wrapped up at least 25 years ago. The Seniors Committee will now consider each candidate before narrowing the list down to 12 finalists on July 27, representing a potential path to Canton for Taylor that most believe is far overdue.
A key contributor to the Chiefs' victory in Super Bowl IV, Taylor hauled in 410 passes for 7,306 yards and 57 touchdowns across 11 seasons with Kansas City from 1965 to 1975. 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 first 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.
He was one of the greatest players of his generation, but for whatever reason, inclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame remained elusive throughout his post-playing days. Now, all these years later, the selection committee has an opportunity to correct that mistake in a similar manner to what happened with former Chiefs' defensive back Johnny Robinson in 2019. Like Taylor, Robinson was long considered a worthy addition to Canton who slipped through the cracks of the selection process. Many worried that Robinson's window to join the Hall had closed, but after years of patiently waiting, he was enshrined in Canton as a "Senior" nominee three summers ago. Taylor now has an opportunity to follow a similar path.
Taylor was one of four semifinalists with ties to the Chiefs. The other three, each of whom was nominated as part of the "Coaches/Contributors" category, were former head coach Marty Schottenheimer, former executive Carl Peterson and longtime scout Lloyd Wells.
Schottenheimer, who passed away last year, was in command for one of the greatest runs of prolonged success in franchise history. In fact, between 1990 and 1997, Schottenheimer led Kansas City to the second-most regular season victories (86) of any team in the NFL.
Peterson also played a role in that stretch of success, serving as the Chiefs' President and General Manager for 20 seasons from 1989 to 2008. Peterson – who hired Schottenheimer in 1989 – built nine playoff teams during his time with the Chiefs, including a stretch of six-consecutive postseason berths from 1990 to 1995.
Wells, meanwhile, is recognized as the first full-time African-American scout in professional football history. He played an integral role in acquiring numerous impact players for Kansas City, including Pro Football Hall of Famers Buck Buchanan, Emmitt Thomas and Willie Lanier. Additionally, in another example of symmetry between the Chiefs' nominees, Wells helped recruit Taylor to the Chiefs.
Schottenheimer, Peterson and Wells were three of 29 semifinalists in the "Coaches/Contributors" category, which mirrors the process used for the "Senior" candidates. Each semifinalist will be considered by the Coach/Contributor Committee until 12 finalists are revealed later this month.
In total, 24 individuals – 12 from each group – will be recognized as finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in a few weeks, and the Chiefs have an excellent opportunity to be well represented.
For a full list of all semifinalists, click here.