George Taliaferro, the first African-American man drafted by an NFL team, died Monday. He was 91, according to ESPN.
Taliaferro was picked by the Chicago Bears during the 13th round of the 1949 NFL draft, although he already committed to play on the Los Angeles Don of the All-America Football Conference, a professional league that rivaled the NFL from 1946 to 1949.
We regret to announce that our namesake of the organization has passed away. George Taliaferro was truly a role model in the Bloomington community. We will continue to make sure his legacy lives on here and throughout the country! pic.twitter.com/Wlxrrh33th
— George Taliaferro Sport Assoc. (@IU_GTSA) October 9, 2018
The former football star later played six seasons for the NFL on the New York Yanks (1950-51), Dallas Texans (1952), Baltimore Colts (1953-54) and Philadelphia Eagles (1955).
He is the only player to have played seven positions in the league, including quarterback, running back, punter, wide receiver, defensive back, kick returner and punt returner, according to a 2017 interview with The Undefeated.
After retiring from the game, Taliaferro taught at the University of Maryland and Indiana University. He was also the dean of students at Morgan State.
Jim Irsay, the Indianapolis Colts owner, shared his thoughts on the passing of Taliaferro on Twitter. “Rest in peace…A trailblazer and true gentleman,” Irsay wrote. “George graced us with his presence at a recent home game. One of our last connections to pro football of the ’40s/50s.”
Rest in peace, George Taliaferro. Not only 1st African-American drafted into NFL, but also league's 2nd African-American QB. A trailblazer and true gentleman, George graced us with his presence at a recent home game. One of our last connections to pro football of the '40s/50s.
— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) October 9, 2018
RIP George Taliaferro first African American drafted into the NFL by the Chicago Bears in 1949, he was 91 years old! Thank you for paving the way for young men like me to play this game! Salute ✊🏾 #BlackExcellence pic.twitter.com/rYgfhgf70J
— Reggie Bush (@ReggieBush) October 10, 2018