From Fragile Fred to Steady Freddy: A look at Fred Taylor’s Career

If you ask any Jacksonvillian to name off Jaguar players, they would probably be able to name at least three. Even if they were not Jaguar fans. Think to yourself for a moment. Which ones can you name?

David Garrard.
Maurice Jones-Drew.
Fred Taylor.

And, maybe Matt Jones. Tons of people have his jersey for some reason. Maybe because it was on sale.

But only one of those names has had a long, outstanding career with the Jaguars. Fred Taylor, who reached the 10,000 yard benchmark in the 2007 season, has lit up the field recently. However, that was not always the case.

In college, Taylor’s defining game was against Florida’s in state rival, Florida State. At the time (certainly not now) they were touted at the number one defense. He managed four touchdowns in the 32-29 upset.

The most important thing to understand about his college career is this: he managed to stand out in Steve Spurrier’s (aka “God”) pass happy offense.

In 1998, the Jaguars moved up in the draft, trading for Buffalo’s ninth pick. We got Fred Taylor. We gave them Rob Johnson and a future quarterback controversy.

Obviously, there were high expectations for Fred. Unfortunately, Fred Taylor caught the injury bug. And he caught it hard. He missed 23 out of 48 games between the 1999 to 2001 seasons. In 2001, Fred went down in the second game of the season with a torn groin. He was gone for the season and all he got for his troubles was the nickname “Fragile Fred”.

To add insult to injury, Taylor’s agent William “Tank” Black laundered almost all of Taylor’s 5 million dollar signing bonus. You know. Basically the only guaranteed money he had. It is a surprise that Taylor didn’t retire early. However, Fred stuck with it. He played for the full seasons in 2002 and 2003 and was only out for two games in 2004.

At 32, he is excelling at his position. It is near impossible to find his jersey in stock at any of the local sports stores. He is seventeenth in career rushing yards. He holds 30 team records. He was finally invited to go to the Pro-Bowl. On January 31 he was named the FEDEX Ground Player of the Year.

In an interview with Jaguars.com, Fred mentioned that he was going to chase Jim Brown’s record and then retire. Recently, the Florida Times Union has reported otherwise.

“Maybe I’ll try to get in the top five or something,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he plans to play at least two more years, but wouldn’t rule out a third, which would enable him to finish his contract at the end of the 2010 season.

Take it from me, we in Jacksonville don’t want to see you go Freddy.

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