Neil Joseph Taylor was born in 1893 in Collingwood, Ontario. But his legacy was established in Regina, Saskatchewan. Neil’s family moved to Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan around 1903 to become one of the original towns folk in this rural community.
A few years later, he returned east to attend law school at University of Toronto. At UofT he found that he excelled as a football player. In 1914 he returned west and joined the Regina Rugby Club of the Western Canada Rugby Football Union. The Western Canada Rugby Football Union joined the Canadian Rugby Union (predecessor to the CFL)in 1921 and changed their name, in 1924, to the Regina Roughriders. They became the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1948.
In 1916, Neil Taylor enlisted into the Royal Air Force and fought as a pilot over the skies of Europe. In one action he was shot down and, although badly wounded including the loss of an eye, he was alive as a POW for a year. He returned to Canada after the war and, even with one glass eye, he became a starting quarterback for the 1919 Riders. That year he led the team to the Hugo Ross trophy with a thrilling win over Calgary.
It is not known when or why he got the nickname “Piffles”
Taylor died suddenly in 1946 in Regina. The home field of the Roughriders, Park de Young, was renamed Taylor Field in his honor in 1947. In 1948 the Hugo Ross Trophy, which he won in 1919, was replaced with the N. J. Taylor Trophy in 1948. He was inducted to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
Roughrider folklore holds that Taylor once had his glass eye pop from its socket when tackled during a game. The game was halted while all the players, on hands and knees, hunted for the eye. When it was found Taylor spit on it to cleaned it off, then popped it back into its socket and resumed the game.