Every NFL franchise has that one player. It’s that guy every thinks didn’t get a fair shake. The guy who could have been a super star if he’d just gotten a few more snaps, a chance to shine or remained healthy. For the Jacksonville Jaguars, there’s always a guy for me that this resonates with and it’s probably because I’m also an Iowa Hawkeyes fan, but I always felt like Tavian Banks could have been a superstar paired with Fred Taylor.
In the 1998 NFL Draft the Jacksonville Jaguars made not one, but two marquee running backs selections. Most fans, unless you’re an old like me, will only remember one of those draft picks. That running back of course is potential hall of famer and former Jaguars great Fred Taylor. I won’t go into everything with Taylor, because we all know how great he was in his career with the Jaguars.
The other running back the Jaguars picked in the 1998 NFL Draft, oddly enough also with a draft pick acquired from the Buffalo Bills in the Rob Johnson trade, was Iowa running back Tavian Banks. The Jaguars picked Banks in the fourth round with the idea that he would pair perfectly with Taylor going forward and work on special teams. Both Taylor and Banks possessed homerun ability, pure speed, and elusiveness.
Banks was a fantastic college player, but his NFL career was cut short because of injuries. His rookie season he was involved in a car accident, and nearly rolled off of the Main Street Bridge with then teammate Cordell Taylor, when the two were rushing to a late meeting before the Jaguars 1998 playoff win against the New England Patriots. Current Jaguars executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin was the head coach at the time, so clearly they needed to be there 5 minutes early. This was also back when the Main Street Bridge had the dangerous grating that has since been removed.
In Banks’ second season with the Jaguars he suffered a hamstring injury that limited him in the preseason, but the big blow came late in the 1999 season. Against the Atlanta Falcons late in the 4th quarter with the Jaguars leading 30-7, Banks made his last play ever in the NFL catching a short pass from Jaguars back-up quarterback Jay Fiedler. Banks was hit late after he stepped out of bounds by Falcons defender Ray Buchannon.
"That was sick," former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor said at the time. "That ain't right. He was out of bounds. He wasn't trying to run. He was trying to catch his balance. I'm not saying he was trying to hurt him, but it wasn't right."
The hit from Buchanon shredded Banks’ knee, tearing the ACL, PCL and LCL. It took nearly two full years of surgeries and recoveries before Banks could attempt a comeback with the New Orleans Saints, spending a season on their practice squad, but he never played again.