George Taliaferro, the first black athlete to be drafted by an NFL team, reportedly passed away on Monday (Oct. 8), the George Taliaferro Sport Association announced. He passed away in Bloomington, Indiana at the age of 91.
Taliaferro was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 13th round of the 1949 NFL draft, but he never played for the team because he was already committed to play for the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference a week before the draft. He played for the Dons during the 1949 season.
He then moved on to the NFL where he played for the New York Yanks during the 1950-51 season. He also played for the Dallas Texans (1952), Baltimore Colts (1953-4), and the Philadelphia Eagles (1955). He played seven positions: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, punter, kick returner, punt returner and defensive back.
He finished his professional football career with 2,266 rushing yards on 498 carries, 15 rushing touchdowns, 95 receptions, 12 touchdown catches, and 1,633 passing yards with 10 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.
Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted kinds words about Taliaferro, saying that he was “a trailblazer and a true gentleman.”
In a past interview, Taliaferro spoke about his historic career. “I’m the one person in the history of the NFL to play seven positions,” Taliaferro told The Undefeated. “When I went on the field, the game was over when I came off.”