Patriots running back Fred Taylor addresses the media for the first time during his conference call on Friday, February 27, 2009.
Q: Were there other teams that were interested that you didn't meet with? And can you sum up how difficult this decision was, or maybe it was pretty easy?
FT: The Patriots and Buffalo were the only teams to show early interest. The visit in Buffalo went real well, but the Patriots just felt like it was the place to be. After talking to Coach Belichick and looking at everything, looking at the type of players they have, it was pretty much a no brainer. Who wouldn't want to play in New England? They have been the most successful organization in the last decade or so. It feels like a good fit with Tom [Brady], Randy [Moss], Wes Welker, Kevin [Faulk], Laurence [Maroney] and all the other guys. It's going to be a good fit. And they have great defense that get you the ball back. When you weight all those options, for me it was a no brainer. We got the deal done quick. They said they would and that's why they are a first class organization that knows how to win. That's why it's easy to choose them.
Q: Their background has a lot of players with NFL credentials. How do you see your role fitting in with all the guys who are already on the team?
FT: I fit in with all of my teammates in college, high school and here in the NFL for 11 years in Jacksonville. I always tell people my mom had five kids and I'm the oldest, so I had to learn how to share with my siblings. Just like the guys I play with, we always work well no matter what and it will be the same way in New England.
Q: There's no set number of carries that keep you happy?
FT: No, there's no set number of carries. Ever since I got into the league I have been trying to make it go the distance on one carry. You have to have that mindset to take advantage of each one. So, my job is to come in there and try to help the squad win - whatever it takes. I'm going to be ready. I can guarantee you that much. I'm going to be ready to play. Each opportunity I get, I'm going to try to make it happen.
Q: How difficult is it to leave Jacksonville after 11 years? You were the poster child for that team.
FT: Jacksonville was home the past 11 years. There is no hiding it. I met a lot of people, made a lot of friends. The kids in that community - naturally I'm going to miss it. But, I do understand the business aspect of it all. It is just another chapter that closed and now it's time to start a new one and move forward. I told Mr. Weaver that after this is all said and done in a couple years, or whatever, I will personally call him and tell him I am ready to retire a Jaguar. But, as for now I have football to play for the Patriots and that's just part of the business.
Q: Who do you know on the team?
FT: I know quite a few guys from playing them throughout my career and of course the playoffs from the last four years. I know Vince [Wilfork]. I know Kevin [Faulk]. I've known Kevin since college. I know Laurence [Maroney], Richard [Seymour], Tedy [Bruschi] and Randy [Moss]. I know quite a few of the guys. I am ready to join the squad, take a place in line and do what I can to help this thing roll.
Q: Did you give any thought at all to the fact that the Patriots have had success with running backs with experience? Guys like Corey Dillon, Antowain Smith, Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan. They seem to be a veteran friendly team, especially for running backs.
FT: They have a very smart organization across the board. Coach Fears knows how to get the guys going. Meeting with him this past week, he really knows how to get the guys going. Whoever is hot, this team knows how to put up points. Obviously, they know what they're doing. The backs that they bring in there… They go in there blue collar and try to make some stuff happen. I have seen all of them on tape. They all run hard. Kevin - never been to a Pro Bowl, but he gets it done and helps the team win championships. So, those guys just want to work and I will be glad to fit in with that group. We can all compete and try to make the squad better.
Q: When you left here was your mind made up at that point or did you need some time to think it over?
FT: I was half way there when I got off the plane. I had to come home and check with the boss lady and make sure she was happy. Ultimately, it was my decision but you got to make sure you check in with the boss first. I was ready to sign before I left, but we had to work out some small numbers. It went well, everything went perfect.
Q: So, the boss lady is ok with this?
FT: The boss lady is absolutely grateful and she is fine with it.
Q: What put it over the top for the Patriots and what made you decide to go with them over Buffalo?
FT: Like I said, Buffalo was a very good visit. First class and they made you feel like you should be there. But, ultimately with the success of the Patriots as well as getting there and meeting Coach Belichick, after knowing his background, and meeting some of the other coaches it just felt like it was the right thing to do. With guys like Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, the defense - those are the type of opportunities you look for and then you go and try to take advantage of it. I am real thankful that I was able to get this free agent thing behind me. I have always wanted to experience it throughout my career, but it didn't last very long and that's the good part about it. I am ready to go to work.
Q: Where are you right now?
FT: I'm in south Florida at my home.
Q: It's well documented that you and Maurice Jones-Drew had a real good relationship in Jacksonville. How do you see him doing with the Jaguars?
FT: I think Maurice is going to do fine. He's been pretty much the bulk of the offense the past couple of years. He knows what to do with the football. He will lead that team. He is a fiery competitor. You can see it on tape - every time… He either hit somebody with a crush and blitz pickup or he's trying to run somebody over or break a tackle. He does it all - he catches the ball. I call him my young LT, as in LaDainian Tomlinson. He can do it just like LT can. So, he's ready to show it.
Q: Have you talked to Maurice Jones-Drew at all?
FT: Yea, I talk to Mo a lot. He's actually coming down to south Florida to start training next week, so we will get some workouts in together. Like I said, we have developed a great relationship. He's a great character person and I tell him never to lose that because the league can change you. I tell him to always be himself. He is very likeable. He's naturally outgoing. So, Mo's going to call me for advice and I'm going to give him all the advice I can give him until they come up to Foxboro this year.
Q: Are you looking forward to that?
FT: Not as a revenge thing. But, those are guys I've practiced against and guys I've known for a few years now, so it will be fun. Football - you want to make it fun. I just look forward to each opportunity but that will be a good one. I will probably just have a little bit more fun that I know all those guys personally.
Q: What has Coach Belichick and the rest of New England's staff told you about what they anticipate your role being on this team?
FT: No one has said anything. What I can tell you is that I anticipate coming in and competing and trying to make the guys at my position better, and they are going to try to make me better. I plan on bringing some positive energy in and doing whatever I can to help the team win. That's where we are with that.
FT: … The Patriots - it's a good opportunity. A well organized team. You have legends: Tom Brady, Randy Moss - we came in together in 1998 and you know what he can do. You have Wes who can catch anything underneath and open some things up. The type of system they run - you have all that in mind. Then, when you get here it was pleasant. Everyone was very open, up front, honest and I felt like that is the type of situation I need to be in. We took some time to hammer the logistics out and now I'm a Patriot and I'm thankful.
Q: What's the boss lady's name?
Q: The magical two work phrase hasn't been mentioned yet, but given your age the thought of the Super Bowl - how much did that play into where you wanted to land?
FT: That window has been closing for some time now ever since the Titans knocked us off in 1999. It hasn't been close in awhile, but the number one thing about that… You just go and compete. Nothing is guaranteed so that wasn't ultimately a thing that made me make my decision. You know what they're about and just give them a shot. They are the most consistent team, so if I'm going to go anywhere they stood out first. They didn't sit on their hands like a lot of teams sit back and wait and see. That's why they are successful, because they move quick. That's what happens when you move quick, you get what you want half the time. I'm glad I'm a Patriot now. I'm ready to go to work and see how this season turns out.