Since he was at Belle Glade in high school, Fred Taylor has always dreamed of playing in the Super Bowl. But last year was the first time he ever went. “I went in support of Plax”(Plaxico Burress of the Giants), Fred revealed on Tuesdays. “Sat there through the whole game, it was the toughest thing I’ve ever done.”
Taylor had been invited before “after my rookie year, to see the Titans. I couldn’t do it. I thought about scalping the tickets but I gave them back.”
It wasn’t an un-emotional time at the game for Fred either. “I had a tear in my eye a couple of times. They say you can’t really know what it’s like to play in the game and that’s exactly right. Until you make your first catch, or your first run and see those flashbulbs going off, you can’t really know.”
It’s something he wants as part of his career: a trip to the big game. “Desperate?” Fred asked when the question was posed about his emotions regarding getting to the game. “I don’t think desperate is the right word. Hungry maybe. I’m hungry to experience that.”
Taylor has been through just about all of the ups and downs a NFL Player can endure. He’s had near misses for the Super Bowl, droughts of no playoff appearances, serious and nagging injuries but he’s kept his spirits up. Admittedly changed since getting married and becoming a father, Taylor knows his life is charmed.
“I’m still a young kid. I play a kid’s game. You have to go out there and have fun. I’m just a bit more mature. I try to have that young man’s mindset at times. I know how to crossover. I know how to flip that switch. I’m a pro. That is the one thing you can say about me. I know when to say yes and when to say no. I’m not going to kiss any butt, but I am going to try and make the right decision because it benefits more than me. I have a family to take care of.”
He refuses to think of a career without a Super Bowl ring and doesn’t miss a chance to look at a championship ring when he sees one. “I saw Joe Theismann’s last night. That’s plenty of motivation.”
Thanks to last year’s run the Jaguars and Taylor know they’re no longer a “dark horse.” They’ll be the favorite most of the year and teams they beat last season will gear up for them. Fred hopes that he can show enough leadership to get guys focused on this year and not last.
“Hopefully all of us can get on the same page and realize that last year was last year. We are going to be targeted by a lot of teams, a lot of teams that we beat last year. They are going to come after us. It’s no secret. I think at this point we are further ahead than we were last year offensively. Defensively, Coach (Gregg) Williams, he does so many different things as far as disguising and putting pressure on opposing offenses. I really do like our chances. I think we can put some good things together.”
I asked Fred if this team just needs a mental adjustment or a little luck to get where they want to be.
“You have to believe. I believe in our team first of all whether it’s a backup guy…it doesn’t matter who’s in there. Going into each game if you have your slated starters in there your confidence is extra high. You have to have faith in the guys behind those starters as well. I believe we can compete with any team in this league. You shouldn’t think any other way or otherwise you are in the wrong business.”
As a veteran player, Taylor knows his time is short in the league. It’s pretty unbelievable he’s played this long as a running back to begin with. He’s taking better care of himself and has the enthusiasm that’s needed to compete in the league.
“Certain things that I have to do, I will buckle down and try and get the job done. Things that I can have fun and mess around with, I take advantage and do it when I can. I get enough mess with the young guys on the team. Somebody called me A.C. Green the other day. It’s a lot of fun. Last year I had so much fun, the most fun I had had in my whole career. This year I expect to be the same way. I pray that we get two games further than we made last year. From there, the sky’s the limit.”