To a lot of people, Fred Taylor is known as "Fragile Fred" for his seemingly never ending injury problems. Instead, he should be known as Fred Taylor, future Hall of Famer.
It isn't Fred's fault that injuries have plagued his career. That is a part of the game. It also isn't his fault that he spent most of his career in Jacksonville, one of the smallest markets in the league. This lack of national exposure has made him a relative unknown to those outside of Florida.
When looking over the NFL's career rushing leaders, you will find Fred Taylor coming in at No. 15. Think about that for a minute; that means that only 14 other players in the history of the game have amassed more yardage on the ground than Fred Taylor.
He ranks above Hall of Famers John Riggins, OJ Simpson, and Larry Csonka. And he is only 534 yards behind Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas, and only 580 back of another Hall of Famer, Franco Harris.
The fact that he has had so many injuries only makes this feat all the more impressive. He has been in the league for 12 seasons, but has only played in 146 games, which is the equivalent of nine seasons and two games of the next. And yet there he is at No. 15 on the all-time list.
Of the top 50 all time rushers, Taylor ranks 13th in yards per game with 79 yards per contest. His 66 career rushing touchdowns only put him 31st in that category, but that is more a product of the system he was in, as opposed to his own short comings. Whether it was Greg Jones early in his career or Maurice Jones-Drew later on, Taylor was always asked to sacrifice touches once Jacksonville was inside the 10-yard line.
Seven times in his 12 year career, Taylor has been able to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season, all the while only playing two full 16-game seasons over that 12 year stretch.
Then there is the most appalling stat of them all. Fred Taylor has only been in the Pro Bowl once in his career, and that was as an injury replacement in 2007. At the time of his first Pro Bowl, Taylor was 19th on the all-time rushing list. He was the only player in the top 50 that had never been to a Pro Bowl. Absolutely unbelievable.
Even still, with his lone Pro Bowl birth, Taylor is one of only seven of the 50 all-time leading rushers to not have multiple Pro Bowl berths, joining John Riggins, Jamal Lewis, Thomas Jones, Ricky Williams, Terry Allen, and Charlie Garner. And he is the highest on the all time rushing list with that distinction.
At 34, Fred Taylor is entering the final season of his contract with the New England Patriots. After that, no one can know for sure where his career will be. But with a good season this year, he could easily jump into the top 10 on the all time rushers list.
If that happens, I would ask, how could he possibly not make it into the Hall of Fame when his career ends?
A lot of people will always remember Fred Taylor for his numerous injuries and his inability to play a full season. I just hope that history will remember him as one of the greatest running backs of all time.
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