Jim Taylor, first of Vince Lombardi-era Packers inducted into Hall of Fame, dies at 83

Hall of Fame fullback Jim Taylor, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in five straight seasons with the Green Bay Packers, died Saturday morning at the age of 83, the team announced.

He died unexpectedly at a hospital in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the team said.

Taylor rushed for 8,207 yards and scored 91 touchdowns in his nine seasons with the Packers from 1958 to '66, and he was the first of the Vince Lombardi-era players to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976.

Taylor led the league with 1,474 rushing yards in 1962, when he was named the league's MVP by The Associated Press. His 1,474-yard mark stood for Green Bay for 41 years, until Ahman Green broke it in 2003.

"Being voted the MVP of the league in 1962 is something that I look back and cherish," Taylor once said. "I felt like I accomplished and achieved my goal."

"Taylor may not be as big as some fullbacks, but he has balance and determination," Lombardi once said. "He is hard to knock off his feet, and he fights for every yard."

A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Taylor was the Packers' career rushing leader until Green broke his record. Taylor was a member of the Packers' NFL championship teams in 1961, 1962 and 1965 and the Super Bowl I title team.

"The Green Bay Packers family was saddened to learn of Jim Taylor's passing this morning," Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement. "He was a gritty, classic player on the Lombardi teams and a key figure of those great championship runs.

"One of the best runners of his era, he later was greatly appreciated by multiple generations of Packers fans during his many returns to Lambeau Field with his fellow alumni. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Helen, and their family and friends."

Taylor, a Louisiana native and former LSU star, played his 10th and final season in 1967 for the expansion New Orleans Saints.

He was a familiar presence at LSU football and basketball games. Athletic director Joe Alleva called Taylor the "ultimate LSU guy" who "bled purple and gold as well as Green Bay green and gold."

"Jim Taylor lived life the same way he played football, with passion, determination and love for all he did," Hall of Fame president/CEO David Baker said in a statement. "... While Jim's spirit forever resides at the Hall, we will miss his smile that would light up a room."

Lombardi came up with the concept of the Packers Sweep, which featured pulling guards and Taylor or Paul Hornung running around the end. But it was the 6-foot, 216-pound Taylor who showed the play's punishing promise.

"That son-of-a-gun is the toughest son-of-a-gun in the league," Hornung, another Hall of Famer, once said of Taylor. "I've seen him run over guys 30 or 40 pounds bigger than he is like that [snap of a finger]."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.