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Fred Taylor: 10,000 yards, 10,000 thanks... [UPDATED]

Fred Taylor: The Man, The legend, the Hall of Famer?

Update [2007-12-18 13:58:48 by River City Rage]: I know this is old, but with the PRO BOWL announcement today, I wanted to bring up our hero, Fred Taylor, for some extra attention. Not that it matters at this point, but Hawaii or not, he's still having a career year. I adjusted the "stats" to reflect where he stands today.

We witnessed history on 1st and 10 yesterday.  You might have noticed it because it was a bit of a big deal.  Fred Taylor ran for 15 yards early in the first quarter.  Just like that, almost straight up the middle, ended up on the Tennessee 42 yard line.  With that run came a piece of NFL history.  We witnessed Fred Taylor rise from being a great running back to a legendary one.  

Fred Taylor is the best player to ever wear the Jaguars uniform.  He's spent ten years in the league after attending the University of Florida.  (Sociology Major, in case you're interested).  His career is known in Jacksonville for toughness and determination, his national reputation is largely undeserved.  Fred Taylor went through 3 seasons where he missed a huge amount of games.  99-01 were rough times for Fred, and when his hamstring was ripped off of his groin in early 01, the reputation of "Fragile Fred" stuck.  Maybe it was the alliteration, maybe it was a lack of any recognizable faces on the Jaguars, but you can't read a Fantasy Football draft guide with a comment about Fred's Hamstring or other injury related nonsense.  

"People say I'm fragile. Things happen, and I would've quit a long time ago if I was fragile. You can't measure my heart. Two weeks ago, [doctors] did an X-ray of my chest and were like, 'Dang, you've got a big ole heart.' Seriously, this really happened. If you ask me, I don't think there's a guy tougher than me. I've got a high threshold for pain.

"I just deal with the tags people and the media put on me. This is how God wrote the script out for me. I think more so than anything, he did it to make me stronger as a person. When I get hurt, I have to dig down deep and fight from within to stay strong and not let what people say get to me. People will judge me and say, 'He was a good back that was injury-prone.' But my heart and persistence, my will and desire to get back out there, that's how I should be judged."

Since 2001, Fred has played in 81 of 89 possible games.  He's got over 6300 yards since that season.  He's been the model of durability since 2001 and attacks against Fred for being "injury prone" are illiterate and nonsensical.  

There are lots of reasons to be fascinated with Fred Taylor.  Let's start with wrapping our minds around the idea of a player remaining with one team long enough to even consider this milestone.  Running Backs are seen as easily replaced and with a short life span.  In an era of Salary Caps and Free Agency, ten years with one team through coaching changes, what feels like three dozen offensive coordinators, the rebuilding of the Jaguars after salary cap hell, all the ups and downs, and yet Fred Taylor is Mr. Constant.  He's the only player left from the early years of Jaguars greatness, he's the only one who knows how terrible the 1999 season felt when the Titans stopped us short of the Super Bowl.  It was appropriate that it happened in Tennessee because Jeff Fisher has probably seen more of Fred Taylor than anyone else in the League.  I appreciate that the Titans Fans cheered when Fred crossed the mark.

Fred himself is a terribly quiet player.  He's not loud, he doesn't demand media attention, though reporters do love his frankness.  He's not a big celebrator, as we saw on Sunday, he wanted to get the ball, congratulate his offensive line, and win the game.  He could have gotten the mark last week against the Saints, but he didn't want to distract from the issues surrounding that loss.

I think owe that to my grandmother. She always told me to stay humble. I had to keep my composure, we had a lot of game left. The score was 0-0 so I didn't want to get overly excited. I just put my head down, thanked God, and asked that we go out there and play as hard as we can to get that win.
It was a lot better to get it today. Last week, my position coach, Kennedy Pola, tried to put me back into the game to run a draw. I was like, `Coach, it doesn't matter. We're not going to win here today.' It would have been bittersweet, no one would have been able to enjoy it with me. Today, everybody's excited - excited about getting a win and bouncing back from last week, excited about what I did today. It's a lot more special to get a win and have people to share it with.

In a league full of terrible things, including some that happen with the Jaguars, Fred is a model citizen, he's the "Boxer" of the Jaguars who's solution to things is always "I will work harder".  Sure, we might have not liked it when he trained in South Florida rather than with the team, but he was always forgiven when he's come back in great shape.  Fred Taylor is a huge part of why we have so much amazing depth at Running Back.  I doubt Maurice Jones-Drew would be as developed of a running back were it not for the influence of Fred Taylor.  The tandem of Fred and MoJo  is so perfect, so complimentary, so simple that it elevates both of them to a higher level.  Maurice takes some of the pressure off of Fred, Fred stays healthy and mentors the Jaguars future.  Greg Jones, LaBrandon Toefield, hell I'd even bet that D.D. Terry on the practice squad has learned something from Taylor.

Greg Jones:

He has meant a lot. He taught me the ins and outs about playing running back when I first got here. Stuff like reading, studying the playbook, getting into a routine, and keeping your body health. He is 10 years into the league. Hopefully I can keep doing the same things he does and I can stay in the league 10 years

Maurice Jones-Drew:

I saw it as me learning from a great person.  It gave me a chance to come in here and get better as a person and as a player.  He saw it as being a teacher and having an understudy.  He has been a great person on the field, but more so off the field.  When you have a guy like that you are glad to see him succeed

Joe Zelenka:

He's been a guy who has been overlooked in this league for a long time when media mention who the best backs are. This milestone really just puts a stamp on it (his career) and his yards per carry were outstanding, too.

Ernest Wilford:

I'm so excited for him and so proud of him. He's a great leader, a great warrior.

Jack Del Rio:

Obviously Fred (Taylor) going over 10,000 (career rushing yards) was very special.  I know the guys in the locker room are very proud of that, proud that it happened on a win.  During the win, he joined some elite company.  An outstanding football player, he deserves to be in that elite company.  In the five years that I have been here Fred has been our workhorse and a heck of a football player.  I'm really happy for him.  I think that it is fitting that all three running backs that carried the ball for us got touchdowns today. That kind of speaks to the unselfish nature of what we have going on here in that running back room particularly.  Fred's a great leader in the room and those guys play very unselfishly and I'm proud of that.

Jeff Fisher (through Fred Taylor):

He said that he hoped that the 13-yard run comes on their sideline. He wants to be the first one to thank me. I have so much respect and admiration for Coach Fisher, just because of the competitive nature that he brings and puts into his ballplayers. Anytime I have an opportunity to compete against this team, it always brings out the best in me and that comes down from him. They're always ready, they always have his back and I just love it.

There will be a time when we have to consider Fred Taylor for the Hall of Fame.  I don't like to speculate on this because of the fickle nature of the voters.  Some of them look at the stuff like Pro Bowls and Playoff performances, and Fred's lacking in both of those (though, this season could change all of that).  Quite frankly, were Fred to have a Super Bowl ring, I think the debate would be over and it would be clear that he's a Hall of Famer.  

Let's look at some facts:

  • Fred Taylor is 8th in NFL history in Rushing Yards per Game (84.2)
  • Fred is 10th in NFL History in Yards from Scrimmage (102.1)
  • Of the top 25 rushers in NFL history, Fred is 5th in Yards Per Carry Average (4.7)
  • Fred is one of 27 players to have more than 2,000 carries (2278)
  • Over the last 9 years, Fred Taylor has the most runs of 10 yards or more in the NFL (285)
  • Of the top 49 rushers, Fred Taylor is the only one to never go to the Pro Bowl (VOTE NOW)
  • He's currently 17th all time in rushing yards (10,604), with 40 more yards he moves up to 16th of all time passing Rickey Waters. (15th place is OJ Simpson, and Fred Needs 633 yards to pass him on the all time list.
So Fred, in closing, thank you for the last ten years, thank you for the next ten years (even if it's not in Football), and congrads for reaching this fantastic milestone.

Here's to you!

-Chris