If the Jacksonville Jaguars were to retire one number, as teams of all sports and leagues have made a tradition of, who should receive the honor?
This question, for me, is relatively easy to answer. The first player to ever catch my interest as a new Jaguars fan back in 2007, a year after I moved to Jacksonville from Pittsburgh, was none other than Fred Taylor. That year, Taylor ran for 195 yards on 41 carries and two touchdowns against my hometown team, the Steelers.
Both games, including the 2007 AFC Wild Card game, ended in wins for the Jaguars (much to the rest of my family’s displeasure). My nine year old self was in awe with the bulldozer named Fred Taylor that entire season, as I had never really gotten into football until that year. He rushed for 1202 yards on 223 carries, averaging nearly 5.4 yards per carry.
What amazes me about the 2006-2007 stretch for Taylor is that he averaged 5+ yards per carry and had over 1,000 yards in both seasons while splitting snaps with the young and electric Maurice Jones-Drew. One would figure the 30/31 year old running back would step back while the former 2nd round pick would take the reigns, but no, Taylor still abused defenders during that stretch on a regular basis.
Looking back on his entire career and not just when I came across Taylor, it’s hard to argue that Taylor isn’t one of the best running backs ever. Currently, he is the 17th all-time leading rusher in the history of NFL. However, there is only a 617 yard difference between his spot and the 10th place spot, held by Jim Brown.
Taylor missed 14 games of the 2001 season due to a groin injury. If that injury were to never happen, I would bet that Fred Taylor would sit pretty at at least 10th in the all-time rushing rankings, and perhaps higher.
In 11 seasons with the Jaguars, before being released in 2009, Taylor rushed for 11,271 yards and 62 touchdowns on 2,428 carries (4.6 yards per carry). He also added 2,361 yards and eight touchdowns on 286 receptions in the passing game. He was truly special, and is one of the most productive players in team history.
Sure, arguments can be made for Jimmy Smith (82) and Tony Boselli (71) to be considered for number retirement, but Fred Taylor is a player you don’t often come across. The 6-1, 230 lb running back provided a rare combination of speed and power that we can only hope Leonard Fournette can bring to Jacksonville.
If I had the privilege to choose one number to retire for the Jacksonville Jaguars, I would retire the number 28 in honor of Fred Taylor and never look back.
What say you?