Two days time will mark exactly two months since the day Ike Taylor announced his retirement. Unlike some players who quietly fade back into society, Taylor has kept his presence known. Interning with the Pittsburgh Steelers, making appearances on NFL Network, and now, a classic interview with Sports Illustrated.
Every answer drips of who Ike Taylor is Hilarious, honest, a little weird, but above all, genuine. After you read this summary, go check out the full interview. It’s well worth it and will get you through the rest of your Friday.
The former Steelers’ cornerback spoke with Jenny Vrentas for SI’s The Monday Morning Quarterback.
Taylor admits he knew during the regular season that 2014 would be the last.
“But, mentally, last year when I got hurt [with a broken forearm], I kind of prepared myself during the season on whether I wanted to play or not. And what determined that was my young guys: the Antwon Blakes, the William Gays, the Brice McCains, the Cortez Allens. When I enjoyed seeing them getting better as men and as players on the field more than me actually going back out there and playing, I knew it was time to hang the cleats up,” he told Vrentas.
It’s amusing to hear him call the 30 year old William Gay a “young guy,” but it’s an honest, unselfish moment to admit that to himself. Exactly what you’d expect from #24.
He recapped his life post-football, still staying involved with the game and spending at least a day with his former team at the beginning of OTAs. His goal was clear and concise.
“But my thing is, if I can help one guy on that team—just one guy, and it doesn’t even have to be my position—make that transition from college, or make that transition from being a good player to a great player, on and off the field, that’s my joy right there.”
Taylor said he was grateful for Mike Tomlin to give him the opportunity to come back and work with the team.
His time as a coach gave him a better look at the type of coach new defensive coordinator Keith Butler is. He coined their player-coach relationship as “brutally honest with each other,” but a newfound respect working as two coaches.
“seeing [Butler at OTAs] mindset, I’m like man, Coach Butler, you really shocked the heck out of me. I liked you before, I’m not going to say I love you now, but we’re getting close. He’s got a mind out of this world.”
No interview with Taylor is complete without talking Dick LeBeau. His description of the Hall of Famer is utterly priceless. I’ll provide a snippet.
“Dicky is a living legend. Dicky is one of my alltime favorites. There is no smoother, more charming, cooler, Jesus-walking-on-earth (other-than-Troy-Polamalu) than Dick LeBeau. He’s one of a kind.”
Taylor has a million nicknames for LeBeau but told Vrentas “we call him white chocolate.” Hands down, my favorite one of them all.
He retired alongside Troy Polamalu. They built up a rare relationship and Taylor says Troy is legitimately included in his will, putting him in “years ago.”
There are dozens of great quotes from him in the rest of the interview, touching on his relationship with the Rooneys and what it mean to spend his entire career in Pittsburgh. Again, an absolute must read.
He wasn’t one of the greatest players of all-time – though it was still underratedly spectacular – but is truly one of the greatest people to wear a Pittsburgh Steelers’ uniform.