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George Taliaferro, First Black Player Drafted by NFL, Dies at 91

George Taliaferro, NFL
Photo: George Taliaferro Sport Association

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.

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.”


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