Taylor enshrinement a might-have-been for Bears


The Jacksonville Jaguars will honor running back Fred Taylor with enshrinement into the teams Ring of Honor this year. The ceremony will be on Sept. 30 when the Jaguars play the Cincinnati Bengals.

Waiting a week and holding the enshrinement on Oct. 7 when the Bears visit Jacksonville might have been a more appropriate occasion. Credit the Jaguars with at least not rubbing it in.

The reason Taylor ended up with Jacksonville and not the Bears occurred on draft day 1998. Had one conversation gone differently that day, Taylor would have amassed his 11,695 rushing yards and 74 touchdowns in a Bears uniform.

Taylor allowed himself a smile when I talked with him about a few years later. Did he ever think about how he was almost a Bear?

All the time, he said, laughing. Funny how that all worked out.

Not funny for the Bears.

They had the No. 5 pick in the 1998 draft and Curtis Enis was going to be the pick there. The late Mark Hatley, running his first draft, was on the phone when the Bears were on the clock, open to making a deal with one of two callers interested in Enis.

One was the New England Patriots, holding picks 18 and 22. Hatley wasnt interested in dropping all the way to 18.

He was interested in the No. 9 pick, however. That and the No. 25 pick belonged to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The voice for Jacksonville in that conversation was then-coach Tom Coughlin. As the call went on, Hatley felt later that he thought Coughlin was trying to bully someone in charge of his first draft and got mad. Call over.

The Bears stayed at No. 5 and took Enis.

The Jaguars stayed at No. 9 and settled for Taylor.

Sometimes the best deals in life are the ones we dont make.

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