Sunday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints came 50 seasons after one of the greatest players in pro football history went from one of those franchises to the other.
Bring up Jim Taylor’s name and most any football fan will picture a crew-cut, hard-nosed running back for Vince Lombardi’s Packers. Indeed, Taylor was one of the most important players of the 1960s, rushing for over 8,000 yards in Green Bay, scoring 81 touchdowns, winning an MVP award and four NFL championships.
But Taylor’s career didn’t end in Green Bay. When Lombardi was on his way to winning a second Super Bowl in his final season as Green Bay’s coach, the Louisiana native was playing for the New Orleans Saints, the new expansion franchise. Now, a game-worn jersey from Taylor’s lone season with the Saints is about the hit the auction block.
Acquired from the team many years ago by pioneering NFL game-used collector Joel Platt and complete with blood stains, the white #31 jersey will be in Heritage Auctions’ November Platinum night event in Dallas. It’s expected to sell for at least $20,000.
After the 1967 expansion draft, Taylor signed a $400,000 contract to play for his home state team, which was coached by Tom Fears, a former player and one of Lombardi’s former assistants. It was hoped he could play multiple seasons. By 1968, though, the Saints opted for younger players and Taylor retired at the end of training camp. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976.