Roosevelt Taylor, Former Bears All-Pro Safety, Dies at Age 82

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 29, 2020

RENSSELAER, IN - AUGUST 1:  Defensive back Roosevelt Taylor #24 of the Chicago Bears poses for his team headshot during training camp on August 1, 1964 in Rensselaer, Indiana. (AP Photo/NFL Photos)
NFL Photos/Associated Press

Roosevelt Taylor, who led the NFL with nine interceptions while heading up the 1963 league champion Chicago Bears' defensive backfield, died Friday at the age of 82. 

Per Bears senior writer Larry Mayer, Taylor was a first-team All-Pro in 1963 before landing on the second team in 1964 and 1965. He had 23 interceptions and four defensive touchdowns in his Bears career, which spanned from 1961-1969.

Taylor finished his NFL tenure with the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins, starting for the 1970 NFC Championship finalist 49ers and 1972 NFC champion 'Skins.

Taylor finished his career with 32 interceptions. He played all but two games, both of which were missed as a member of the 1971 49ers. Taylor landed in San Francisco after being traded along with a fifth-round draft pick for guard Howard Mudd in 1969.

Taylor's last game was Super Bowl VII, when he started at free safety and helped hold the undefeated Miami Dolphins to just 14 points. However, Washington only scored seven in the one-score loss.

The Grambling State University alum was ranked 43rd on list of the top 100 Bears of all time chosen by Will Rankin of the Chicago Tribune. Per Rankin, his tackle of the New York Giants’ Hugh McElhenny on a kickoff return helped save a touchdown in the team's 14-10 win over the G-Men in the 1963 championship.

Chicago Tribune sportswriters issued much praise for the 5'11", 186-pound defensive back over the years, per Rankin, with terms and phrases such as "super safety," "the best in the league at his job," "the dandy little defensive back from New Orleans" and "pro football’s slickest free safety" given to the Bears' backfield star.