Charley Taylor, a Hall of Fame receiver who played his entire career in Washington, has passed away, 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 mimic nearly 60 years later, Taylor won Rookie of the Year honors in 1964 after catching 53 passes for 814 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for 755 yards and five touchdowns. Taylor led the NFL in receptions during the 1966 and '67 seasons en route to being named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1960s.
"We are incredibly saddened to hear the news about 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 sorely 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 came after Taylor turned 30. At age 31, Taylor received his fifth Pro Bowl nod while helping Washington capture its first NFC title with a 26-3 win over the rival Cowboys. Taylor scored two touchdowns in the win that 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 9,110 yards and 79 touchdowns.
"To be a total football player, you've got to go play every play," Taylor once said, "and I like to play every play."
A member of Washington's Ring of Fame and a 1984 Hall of Fame inductee, Taylor worked in the team's scouting department under Bobby Mitchell before being named the team's receivers coach in 1981, Joe Gibbs' first season as head coach.
"He relates so well to the players and they feel they can come to him and talk over their problems," Gibbs said upon naming Taylor as his receivers coach. "This will be good for him, because when it comes time to make a career decision whether he wants to coach or scout, he'll have the proper background to make the right choice.
"He'll know where he really belongs. And right now, I think he'll find out that coaching is his future. He's really good at it."
Gibbs was right. In 13 seasons as the team's receivers coach, Taylor won three Super Bowls as Washington rose to prominence as one of the NFL's top teams. Taylor mentored several talented receivers that included Hall of Famer Art Monk, Gary Clark, Ricky Sanders and Charlie Brown.
As talented as those receivers were, none of them as good as Washington's first great wideout.
"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 against him to make the team."