Even if this is it for Fred Taylor – and I think he’ll play somewhere
next season – it has been a remarkable run for a kid from Belle Glade.
He lasted 11 years in the league despite suffering several injuries
that left him with an unflattering nickname – “Fragile Fred.”
But somehow, despite being so fragile, he ran for 11,721 yards, the 16th best total in NFL history.
When I found out about Taylor’s release by Jacksonville, I sent a
text to Mike Peterson, his former UF and Jacksonville teammate.
Peterson texted me back, “Another sad day in Jax!”
This has never been and never will be a big Jaguars town, but the
Gator Nation always took pride in what Taylor was able to do in the NFL.
I understand the move. Strictly business. That’s what the NFL is
and Taylor understood that. It’s why you see some players return for
their senior seasons in college, because they have been told by
professional players that it’s more fun to play college football.
So the question now is whether Taylor’s numbers are worthy of the
NFL Hall of Fame. There is currently one Gator in Canton – Jack
Youngblood – and certainly another who will be a first-ballot guy in
Emmitt Smith. Since Lomas Brown and Wilber Marshall don’t seem to have
a lot of support, Taylor is the best bet to make it three for UF.
A lot may depend on how much longer he plays. If he gets in the
right situation and can add to his numbers, maybe reach the top 10
all-time in rushing, he’s got a shot. But since he’s been to only one
Pro Bowl (which is a joke) and never played in a Super Bowl (not his
fault), Taylor’s current resume probably means he won’t make it.
So here’s the ideal situation for Fred Taylor – he goes to New
England, spends three seasons and rushes for another 1,500 yards in
those three seasons. The Patriots win one Super Bowl and play for
It’s possible there is another 1,000-yard season in his 33-year
old body, but it’s doubtful any team is going to hand Taylor the ball
that often when there are so many excellent young tailbacks around.
He may not make it to the Hall of Fame, but when you’re making a
list of the greatest Gators in the NFL, he’s in the conversation.