First black player drafted by the NFL passes away at 91
Playing football for Indiana University, he was one of the best players in college football. He was versatile - he played quarterback, halfback, kicker and defensive back - and, in 1945, rushed for 719 yards to take the Hoosiers to an undefeated season. However, George Taliaferro wasn't able to live in the dorms, dine in the school's cafeteria or even swim in the pool. This didn't stop him from staying focused on his passion for football, which led to his being chosen the first black player to enter the NFL. Now, Taliaferro has passed away at 91 years of age.
The discrimination he suffered in his younger years was his motivation for becoming a great football player. In the "George Taliaferro: Hoosier Legend" documentary film from 2008, he was quoted as saying, “The thing I liked most about football was hitting people. It allowed me to vent my frustrations with being discriminated against in the United States.”
Taliaferro never imagined he would be drafted by the NFL. Only a week before the NFL held its draft in 1949 (officially, the 1949 draft, but it was held at the end of 1948), he signed with a team in the now-defunct All-American Football Conference (AAFC). However, without any fanfare or even a conversation with the talented player, the Chicago Bears had chosen Taliaferro in the 13th round.
Unfortunately, because he had already signed on with the AAFC, Taliaferro wasn't able to accept the position. He wasn't the first black player to enter the league - Kenny Washington signed with the Rams in 1946 - but he will always be known as the first to have been drafted by the league.