Despite that kind of excitement, however, the Redskins finished 6-8 in both 1964 and 1965. Impatient, Williams fired McPeak. Star-struck, he hired Otto Graham as head coach and general manager.
As a quarterback, Graham had led the Browns to NFL titles in 1950, 1954 and 1955 and to the championship game his other three years in the league. Coaching at the Coast Guard Academy at the time, Graham claimed not to be interested in the NFL. But a five-year contract valued at half a million dollars apparently was an offer he couldn't refuse.
In his first year of training camp at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania the Redskins had moved there three years earlier Graham made a profound position change switching Taylor from running back to wide receiver. Taylor was as shocked as anyone. His dream had been "to be the next Jimmy Brown."
Even before the move, Taylor had been uncomfortable with Graham. That was because of a 1964 incident when Graham was head coach of the College All-Star team. He had said publicly of Taylor: "He's a great athlete, but he is very lazy. He could have a great future or he could fall flat on his face. He comes late to practice and is the first to leave. He even misses practice. And it has happened too often for him to be the victim of circumstances. He seems to have no interest."
When Graham signed on with the Redskins, according to Taylor, "he said he had misjudged me, that I was a very hard worker and a great player. I believe he meant those compliments."
Graham saw several things in Taylor. One was his productivity in his two seasons at running back: He had averaged 3.8 yards on 199 carries the first year and 2.8 yards on 145 carries the second. Another was Taylor's ability in the open field: He had caught 53 passes out of the backfield as a rookie, a league record for running backs. Taylor's running skills would be ideal for turning short passes into long gains. At 6 feet, 3 inches and 215 pounds, moreover, he was unafraid to go over the middle as a receiver and as a blocker. It was too much to ignore the possibilities from combining Taylor with Mitchell and tight end Jerry Smith.
"When he first talked to me about moving," Taylor said, "I didn't want any part of it. I didn't know anything about running pass patterns. We had our words about it. I don't think I ever said no, but he understood I was unhappy . . . He was the head coach, and I didn't have a choice. I didn't brood about it. I respect authority.