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Last modified: Thursday, September 27, 2007

Book signings honor IU Football legend George Taliaferro


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — This Friday (Nov. 16), a book signing at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend will honor Indiana University graduate and All-American football star George Taliaferro.

Taliaferro was a star halfback on IU's first great football team in 1945, two years before Jackie Robinson broke baseball's racial barrier. Four years later, in 1949, Taliaferro became the first African American drafted by the National Football League when the Chicago Bears expressed their interest in him.

Rather than play for his childhood dream team, Taliaferro opted to honor the contract he had previously signed with the Los Angeles Dons of the All American Football Conference. However, Taliaferro would eventually go on to play in the NFL for teams such as the New York Yanks, Dallas Texans, Baltimore Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles. He completed a bachelor's degree from IU in 1951.

To prepare the IU Press book, Taliaferro -- Breaking Barriers from the NFL Draft to the Ivory Tower, author and fellow IU graduate Dawn Knight (BS'93) combed NCAA and NFL records and conducted numerous interviews with Taliaferro, his family, former teammates and Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy, who wrote the book's foreword. More than a biography of one individual, this is a story of historic achievement and inspiration.

Knight, now a teacher at Westfield High School, first met Taliaferro as a student in his Introduction to Social Work class at IU, and hadn't known about his storied football career before then.

"What struck me the most as I started researching for this book was that he had inspired me well before I had known about his football career," Knight said. "He was able to overcome hardships -- like the sudden death of his father, being drafted to fight in World War II, the racism and segregation he fought in Bloomington and then in the NFL and rejection by the woman he loved -- with humor and optimism."

Taliaferro's humor is evident in his reaction to the upcoming book signings: "Come one, come all… Have pen in hand ready to write. Catch me while I'm young!"

George Taliaferro

George Taliaferro

Print-Quality Photo

Knight and Taliaferro will be signing copies of the biography at the following events:

  • Thursday (Oct. 4), 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., NCAA Hall of Champions, 700 W. Washington St., Indianapolis (Contact: Aimee Hansell, 800-824-3044)
  • Nov. 16, 1 to 3 p.m., College Football Hall of Fame, 111 S St. Joseph St., South Bend (Contact Jen Goins, 812-855-3918)

Arrangements are being finalized for public book signing event in November at Bloomington.

The IU Alumni Association is dedicated to serving the university and its diverse alumni, students and friends. As one of the nation's largest alumni organizations, serving more than 500,000 graduates worldwide, the IUAA provides many programs and services to its members, non-member alumni and the university. For information, visit or call 800-824-3044.