Today, Fred Taylor will sign a ceremonial one-day contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team which drafted him eighth overall in 1998, and then he will announce his retirement from the NFL after 13 seasons and 11,695 yards, which is 15th most all-time.
Taylor was released by the Jaguars in 2009, when the team decided to hand the reins of its running game entirely to Maurice Jones-Drew, who had learned at Taylor’s knee. He signed a two-year deal with the Patriots, but only played in 13 regular-season games with the Pats because of ankle and foot injuries.
It didn’t work out as either side had planned, but Bill Belichick still has a great deal of respect for Taylor. Here’s what he said after the game last night:
“I thought he was a tremendous example for the younger players. He had a great attitude, a great work ethic, very professional,” Belichick said. “I think he added a lot to our team in those two years. He wasn’t able to contribute as much on the field as he or we would have liked, but as far as being professional and doing everything the right way and being a great example – not just to the younger players but really all the players – he was exemplary.
“It was really a privilege for me to coach him. He’s had a tremendous career. He’s a tremendous player and he deserves all the recognition that he’ll be getting. He was outstanding. A very hard guy to play against and we were very fortunate to have him on our team for a couple of years at the end of his career. We’ve had several guys like that – the Junior Seaus and the Fred Taylors and guys like that – and they’ve brought a lot to us at that time and we were fortunate to have them.”
Taylor sounded as though he was ready to call it a career when we spoke in late December, but during the lockout he gave an interview and said he hadn’t quite made up his mind.
Now, it appears, he’s ready to hang up his own cleats. His son, Kelvin, who is a junior at Glades Day High School in Florida, is one of the best high school running backs in the country, so the family name surely will carry on.