Right guard Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers played in the NFL for 11 years. In nine of those years, fullback Jim Taylor was his roommate.
Taylor had a great career as a member of the Packers, as he gained 8,207 yards and scored 81 touchdowns on the ground in nine seasons in Green Bay. Taylor also had 26 100-yard rushing games as a Packer, plus had five straight seasons of rushing for more than a 1,000 yards (1960-64).
No. 31 was also a threat in the passing game, as he had 187 receptions for 1,505 yards and 10 more scores.
In 1962, Taylor was also named NFL MVP, as he rushed for 1,474 yards and had 19 touchdowns.
In the postseason, Taylor was also a force. The former LSU Tiger rushed for 508 yards and had two touchdowns on the ground, plus had 19 catches for 137 yards as a receiver.
Taylor and his primary backfield companion, Paul Hornung, were considered the best blocking-back tandem in the NFL while they played together.
It all led to Taylor being enshrined to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976.
Kramer knew Taylor just about as well as anyone on the Packers, as he not only was his roommate, but also was a partner in a commercial diving business.
No. 64 and his teammates on the offensive line also created a lot of the running room that allowed Taylor to get good chunks of yardage.
Kramer gave me his thoughts on Taylor. “He was a romping, stomping fullback,” Kramer said. “An incredibly well-conditioned athlete. Probably the best-conditioned athlete, or one of the best in the league.
“He was a weight-lifter and a body-builder. He had a mind-set that he needed to punish the defense. Normally the defense is always trying to make guys on offense get stung with their hits, while Jimmy thought it should be the exact opposite.
“I remember us all looking at some film where Jimmy is running down the sideline and a safety had a bead on him and was going to cut him off. Jimmy decided to run right at the safety and just wails him! Coach Lombardi said, ‘What are you doing? You should run away from that guy.’ Jimmy replied, ‘You got to sting ’em coach. You have to sting ’em a little bit.’
Kramer than talked about the 1962 NFL Championship Game against the New York Giants, where No. 64 scored 10 points, as he kicked as well as playing right guard in the contest. For his efforts in the 16-7 victory, Kramer earned a game ball.
“Jimmy always put out tremendous effort,” Kramer said. “Gave you everything he had. In the ’62 title game, the Giant defense beat the hell out of him. Jimmy had a great game (85 yards rushing and one touchdown), even as the Giants were piling on whenever they could or hitting after the whistle. On the plane going home, Jimmy was playing cards with us with his coat on and his hands were still trembling. But he never said anything about how bad he was hurting or complained one bit.”
Kramer also talked about how good Taylor was in negotiating his contract with Vince Lombardi, who was not just the head coach, but was the general manager of the Packers as well.
“Jimmy was a great contract negotiator,” Kramer said. “He was extremely tenacious about getting a good deal. He ended up getting one of best contracts on the team, time after time.
“One time, Jimmy wouldn’t sign the deal that was offered to him. He would go up to coach Lombardi’s office and be gone for an hour. I asked him what happened, and he just said, ‘Nothing. We just looked at each other.’ Jimmy ended up getting the deal he wanted. Jimmy was definitely one of a kind.”
Ironically, it was a contract squabble that led to Taylor leaving the Packers for the New Orleans Saints in 1967 after playing out his option in 1966.
Still, Taylor was part of four Green Bay teams which won the NFL title, plus was the leading rusher in Super Bowl I, where he ran for 53 yards and a score.