American Football Database
George Taliaferro
File:George Taliaferro - 1952 Bowman Large.jpg
Taliaferro on a 1952 Bowman football card
No. 20, 24
Personal information
Born:(1927-01-08)January 8, 1927
Gates, Tennessee
Died:October 8, 2018(2018-10-08) (aged 91)
Bloomington, Indiana
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:196 lb (89 kg)
Career information
High school:Gary Roosevelt (Gary, Indiana)
NFL Draft:1949 / Round: 13 / Pick: 129
Career history
* Los Angeles Dons (1949)
Career highlights and awards
* 3× Pro Bowl (19511953)
Career NFL statistics
Rushing touchdowns:15
Rushing yards:2,266
Receiving yards:1,300
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

George Taliaferro (January 8, 1927 – October 8, 2018) was a professional American football player who was the first African American drafted by a National Football League (NFL) team.[1] Beginning his football career at Indiana University for the Hoosiers team, he played in the NFL for the New York Yanks from 1950 to 1951, the Dallas Texans in 1952, the Baltimore Colts from 1953 to 1954, and Philadelphia Eagles in 1955. Taliaferro was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

Early life

Taliaferro was born in Gates, Tennessee.[2] Before his college years, he moved to Gary, Indiana where he graduated from Gary Roosevelt High School.[2] He attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, in 1945.[2] While at Indiana University, Taliaferro became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.[3]


College football

As the leading rusher and an All-American at Indiana University, he led the Hoosiers team to their only undefeated Big Ten Conference championship.[2][4] He was a three-time All-American, Taliaferro led the Hoosiers in rushing twice, punting in 1945 and passing in 1948.[2] Taliaferro helped break the color barrier in sports, playing for the Hoosiers two years before Jackie Robinson suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers.[5] He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.[6]

National Football League (NFL)

Taliaferro, a halfback, quarterback, and punter, was picked by the Chicago Bears in the thirteenth round of the 1949 NFL Draft but instead chose to play for the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference.[7] This made him the first African American drafted by an NFL team.[4] He played with the Dons in 1949, then moved to the NFL, where he played with the New York Yanks (1950–1951), Dallas Texans (1952), Baltimore Colts (1953–1954), and Philadelphia Eagles (1955).[8] He went to the Pro Bowl in 1951, 1952, and 1953.[9]

Personal life

A documentary about Taliaferro, titled Indiana Legends: George Taliaferro, was produced by WTIU public television in Bloomington, Indiana.[10] In later years he became a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Baltimore, advised prisoners adjusting to society upon their release, got his master's in social work at Howard University, taught at Maryland, was dean of students at Morgan State, returned to Indiana as a professor and special assistant to IU president John Ryan, and helped start Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Indiana in Bloomington.[11]


Taliaferro died at age 91 on October 8, 2018, in Bloomington, Indiana from heart failure.[4]

See also

  • Racial issues faced by black quarterbacks


  1. "NFL History and Stats - Football History". Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Schumann, Mike (October 9, 2018). "Breaking: IU Legend George Taliaferro Dies at 91". The Daily Hoosier. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  3. Knight, Dawn (2007). Taliaferro: Breaking barriers from the NFL draft to the ivory tower. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-253-34931-6.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "George Taliaferro, Indiana U. football star, first black player drafted in NFL, dies at 91". Washington DC: Nash holdings, LLC. October 10, 2018. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  5. "George Taliaferro, First African-American Player Picked in NFL Draft, Dies at 91". New York City: Meredith Corporation. October 9, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  6. Finley, Patrick (October 9, 2018). "George Taliaferro, first African-American player drafted in NFL, dies at 91". Chicago, Illinois: Sun-Times Media Group. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  7. Mayer, Larry (February 14, 2012). "Smith thrilled to meet Bears' first African American player". Chicago Bears. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  8. "George Taliaferro Played Quarterback and a Whole Lot More". The Undefeated. September 28, 2017. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  9. "References: Player George Taliaferro". Pro-Football Reference. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  10. "Indiana Legends: George Taliaferro". PBS. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  11. "IU football trailblazer George Taliaferro dies at 91". IndyStar. October 9, 2018.

Further reading

External links