George Taliaferro, former star running back on Indiana University and the first African-American player to be drafted by an NFL team, passed away Monday night at age 91.
Taliaferro was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1949 in the 13th round, but never played for the team. He had committed to play for the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference and played for them during the ’49 season. Taliaferro did play six years in the NFL from 1950 to 1955 with the New York Yanks, Dallas Texans, Baltimore Colts and Philadelphia Eagles. He made the Pro Bowl in three consecutive season from 1951 to 1953. Taliaferro played seven positions, including quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
A standout running back at Indiana University, Taliaferro led the Hoosiers to a 9-0-1 season in 1945, the Hoosiers’ only outright Big Ten title. It was also the first of three All-America seasons at Indiana for Taliaferro, who led the team twice in rushing (1945 and 1948), three times in punting (1945, 1947, 1948) and once in passing (1948). His 95-yard kickoff return against Minnesota in 1945 still ranks ninth on Indiana’s all-time list.