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.
"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.
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.
Jack Del Rio:
Jeff Fisher (through Fred Taylor):
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.
Here's to you!