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tk13
02-10-2006, 01:16 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/football/nfl/kansas_city_chiefs/13835087.htm

Otis Taylor battling Parkinson’s
Former Chiefs star slows down as illness continues to progress

By ELIZABETH MERRILL
The Kansas City Star

The master bedroom is where Otis Taylor spent Super Bowl Sunday. It’s comfortable there, propped up in bed, his sister by his side. It’s easier to doze off and forget. A highlight showed Taylor from Super Bowl IV, younger, stronger, invincible.

“Look at you running down the sideline,” Florence Odell said.

Taylor just looked at his sister and raised an eyebrow. By halftime, he was ready to fall asleep.

Nobody close to Taylor knows exactly when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. His buddy Ollie Gates thinks it was at least four years ago. Taylor’s sister thinks he’s had it longer, though he didn’t tell her until 2˝ years ago.

“He didn’t want to burden me,” Florence said. “I was taking care of Mom with Alzheimer’s and had my hands full. I knew something was different. I didn’t know what.”

Quietly, the legendary Chiefs receiver has fought Parkinson’s, out of the spotlight but never alone. A good day is when friends stop by, and Taylor and his sister take a two-hour drive in their truck. Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Bell calls a lot. When Taylor is sleeping, Bell tells Florence not to wake him.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder marked by tremors, slow movement, poor balance and difficulty walking and talking. Florence, a nurse in Houston who moved to Kansas City to care for her brother, said Taylor is “doing pretty good.” He walked around the house Thursday.

In Taylor’s prime, he was one of the most exciting wide receivers of his era, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound dynamo who was bigger, stronger and faster than everyone else at his position. His signature play — the Chiefs’ signature play — came in Super Bowl IV when he plowed through Minnesota’s Earsell Mackbee and ran 46 yards down the sideline for the victory-clinching touchdown.

Now Taylor struggles around the house and gets help from a wheelchair that Gates bought him for Christmas.

“It’s hard to see any of your friends deteriorate,” Gates said. “Especially when you’re the older one. He used to call me Old Man. He looks like an old man now. Most of his strength has been sapped. It really makes you take stock of your own life.”

But Parkinson’s didn’t cause Taylor’s life to stand still. He released a book about his career and life in 2003 and attended a signing on the plaza. Taylor couldn’t write his name and used a stamp.

Florence said Taylor doesn’t struggle much with tremors but tires easily and has trouble with memory, talking and walking.

“He knows what he wants to say,” Florence said, “but it doesn’t come out.”

Parkinson’s afflicts more than 1 million Americans and has stricken actor Michael J. Fox and boxing great Muhammad Ali.

When Ali was in town in February 2000 for Kids Night Out, Taylor was there, sitting alone by a wall, watching him. Did Taylor know then?

“I just want to see the champ,” Taylor said in a 2000 article in The Star. “I just want to catch a glimpse of him.”

Friends just want to catch Taylor, good day and bad. When Bell visits with his booming voice, it brings a smile. Florence tells the guys to call anytime, 24-7.

Otis apparently got tired of the Super Bowl at halftime, when he complained it was too long. He eventually fell asleep. Florence promised to give him the score when he woke up.

“It’s a struggle,” she said. “Especially when you’re used to getting up and golfing and being active with people and all.

“I’m just glad to be here with him.”

KcMizzou
02-10-2006, 01:23 AM
Sad to hear. I wish I'd seen him play.

mikey23545
02-10-2006, 05:42 AM
This has just ruined my whole ****ing day...I had never heard of this earlier.

Life is so ****ing....<i>wrong</i> sometimes.

Thanks for all the memories OT....Fight the good fight. Sorry that I just shed a tear for you...

Bob Dole
02-10-2006, 05:52 AM
Bob Dole and some others went and talked to him and got some 37 Forever gear signed before a game at Arrowhead a few years back and he was already a shadow of his former self. It was a sobering experience to see someone you admired as a kid look so frail.

wolfpack0735
02-10-2006, 07:14 AM
its hard to watch a person you admire go down like he is. sorry to hear this.

Skip Towne
02-10-2006, 07:24 AM
Really sad. He would be sensational if he played today.

FAX
02-10-2006, 07:32 AM
Otis Taylor from Len Dawson down the sideline. Truly, one of the greatest plays in all of sports.

I didn't know about this. It is very sad indeed.

May God bless Otis Taylor.

FAX

Rain Man
02-10-2006, 07:58 AM
Otis was my childhood hero growing up. I hate to hear about this.

FAX
02-10-2006, 08:22 AM
I wonder if the player's union is helping him.

FAX

FAX
02-10-2006, 08:25 AM
Actually, I think I'll write a letter. Anybody have a link to the NFL player's union?

FAX

shakesthecat
02-10-2006, 08:25 AM
Sad news indeed

burt
02-10-2006, 08:26 AM
Giants will fade.....memories don't. Thanks to Otis Taylor for giving us memories. Sad news......sad.

Frankie
02-10-2006, 08:45 AM
Otis Taylor from Len Dawson down the sideline. Truly, one of the greatest plays in all of sports.

I didn't know about this. It is very sad indeed.

May God bless Otis Taylor.

FAXCan somebody post a video of that SB TD? It oughta be on the net somewhere.

SLAG
02-10-2006, 08:59 AM
Actually, I think I'll write a letter. Anybody have a link to the NFL player's union?

FAX


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FAX
02-10-2006, 09:04 AM
NFLPA Retired Players Contact Info

Thanks, Mr. SLAG02.

I've sent off a couple of emails to them. (One to the address you so graciously provided.) Also one to Trent to see if he knows what the Chiefs' organization is doing to help Otis.

Perhaps they will respond and we will learn something.

FAX

SLAG
02-10-2006, 09:10 AM
Thanks, Mr. SLAG02.

I've sent off a couple of emails to them. (One to the address you so graciously provided.) Also one to Trent to see if he knows what the Chiefs' organization is doing to help Otis.

Perhaps they will respond and we will learn something.

FAX

No Problem.

I met Otis One time.. im only 21 so I never got to see him play in real life, my wifes grandpa talks about him all the time. I did see film from SB IV and that catch and run is Amazing.

Whats odd is that when I met him it was at Kemper for some sort of Harlm Globe Trotters Thingamajig and I was on the Court and had Him Sign a Small little Rubber Basketball because thats all I had.

I did get a good Look at his superbowl ring and that was very cool

shaneo69
02-10-2006, 09:18 AM
I hope the NFL HOF veteran's committee reads about this. Maybe they will do the right thing and nominate him next year like they did for Hank Stram.

I know Otis' stats don't measure up by today's standards, but I believe his stats are comparable to Lynn Swann's. Probably the closest comparison is Bullet Bob Hayes. Hayes isn't in either, but then Otis didn't have Hayes' legal problems.

Phobia
02-10-2006, 09:42 AM
Bob Dole and some others went and talked to him and got some 37 Forever gear signed before a game at Arrowhead a few years back and he was already a shadow of his former self. It was a sobering experience to see someone you admired as a kid look so frail.

That was fall of 2000, which makes the timeline in this story kind of curious.

Dunit35
02-10-2006, 11:52 AM
Sad story indeed. I never got to enjoy his playmaking abilities since I'm only 20. Sadly unless something drastic happens he won't be able to see himself inducted into the Hall (if that ever happens). But pardon me for asking, why isn't his number retired?

Tribal Warfare
02-10-2006, 12:04 PM
Hey Hall Of Fame commitee, time get off your butts and do the right thing. Otis deserves to be in the HOF, he's paid his dues, and if Lynn Swann can get in, then Taylor should be in there with the NFL greats too.