At a very star-studded event at Baton Rouge Magnet High School on March 7, 2013, the humble Jim “Jimmy” Taylor enjoyed a very sentimental Allstate Pro Football Hall of Fame “Hometown Hall of Famers™” ceremony. The event took place in the auditorium where Jim used to play basketball (literally on the same stage, a memory he recounted during his speech) before its recent renovations. From the singing of the national anthem by one of the students to the playing of the old fight song by the pep band, there was certainly no lack of pomp and circumstance.
Steve Schneider, sports anchor for WAFB-TV (CBS) Baton Rouge, La., served as the emcee and kicked off the ceremony with a highlight reel of Taylor’s career in which his former teammates reminisced about how Taylor was one of the best conditioned athletes they had ever seen.
Addressing the crowd, Allstate representative Bob Duhe said, “On behalf of Allstate and all our agents in the Baton Rouge area, I am privileged to help honor the legacy of Pro Football Hall of Fame member and to recognize Baton Rouge Magnet High school for its outstanding school spirit and legacy of greatness.”
The energy continued with the legendary Louisiana State University baseball coach and close friend of Taylor’s, Skip Bertman, who served as plaque presenter, sharing memories of Taylor and putting his glory days into perspective by telling the students, “1954 may seem like a long time ago, but in reality, you are all still one school, and one team.”
Skip shared countless impressive statistics, informing the crowd that he wanted to share all of them because most of these numbers were franchise records at least until 2009. Everyone in the crowd acknowledged and applauded that accomplishment.
After unveiling his “Hometown Hall of Famers™” plaque, Jim took a moment to address the student body. Jim told the students to “Set your goals high, and one day I hope that you too can come back here to thank your teachers and faculty, and realize that you are privileged to attend such a great high school.”
“This plaque could reside at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, but instead chose Baton Rouge High School as its permanent home,” said Richards. “Today, Baton Rouge High School becomes only the 57th school to be an official extension of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
Other notable attendees at the ceremony included Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Pettit and former LSU football coach Paul Dietzel, as well as a large group of friends, alumni, fans, and former teammates who all came out to support the legendary player.
A Baton Rouge, native, Taylor was a standout fullback at LSU, and an All-American back in 1957. He was a second round draft pick (15th overall) in the 1958 NFL Draft where he was selected to the Green Bay Packers. At the same time that the legendary Vince Lombardi took over the coaching reigns, Taylor quickly became a key player for the Packers, best known for his rugged fierceness on the field.
Gaining 1,000 yards a season became commonplace for Taylor. He went over 1,000 yards five straight seasons beginning in 1960, reaching his peak in 1962 with a career-high of 1,474 yards and was named NFL Player of the Year. Taylor was a member of four Packers NFL championship teams and was selected to five consecutive Pro Bowls. He won the NFL rushing title in 1962, and remained the Packers’ all-time leading rusher until his record was broken in 2009 by Ahman Green.
After playing nine seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Taylor played one final season with the New Orleans Saints before retiring from pro football in 1967. He ended his career with 8,597 yards and 83 rushing touchdowns.
Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976.
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