2.16.2009

Dark Days in Jacksonville

The Jacksonville Jaguars did the unthinkable today, releasing Fred Taylor, the greatest player in the franchise's short history. I just heard the news after leaving the office, and this one hurts. Being the stand-up man that he is, Fred did an interview on the locally broadcasted Pete Prisco Show.

Fred was gracious in discussing his tenure with the Jags. He mentioned that owner Wayne Weaver and coach Jack Del Rio flew to his home in South Florida to ask him to retire. Fred said that he knew something was up when his agent's calls to renegotiate went largely ignored by the Jags. Del Rio was just interviewed on the local newscast. He said the Jags are in rebuilding mode and those plans don't include Freddy T. With Maurice Jones-Drew set to make a huge payday, the team couldn't afford two six-million-dollar backs. It does make sense, but it's more than a little surreal.

When I was living in Oregon, I drafted Fred first in the fantasy league I was playing in during the 2000 season. Little did I know how frequently I would see him play in person and listen to him on the radio. He did regular radio interviews out here on Thursdays during the 4:00 p.m. hour. In the summer and fall, that's when I'd be pushing the mower around in the 95 degree heat, sweating and listening to Fred talk football.

He was always a fantastic talent, and I got a chance to see what a great individual he is also. He's very charitable and he grew into a great speaker (dude gives a helluva candid interview) and a savvy veteran. He's got a lot more football left in him also. Put him on a team that runs a zone blocking scheme (I'm looking at you, Denver), and he'll run wild. He's one of the best trap runners in the league, and he can still go eighty yards in a heartbeat.

The last thing he discussed with Prisco was possibly taking a slot on the hated Colts. That would turn this town inside out, let me tell you.

Fred is 16th all-time in rushing yards in NFL history. He scored 70 touchdowns as a Jaguar. He played here for eleven years. That's amazing, in and of itself in the NFL.

I wish you the best in your future endeavors, Fred, and know that we'll be keeping a spot warm for you in the Pride of Jacksonville Ring of Fame at the stadium.

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