With 73 days left until the start of the NFL season, our countdown to the big day continues. Thursday, Sept. 4, is the day when the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle to take on the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks. Over the course of the next 73 days we focus on the number that represents the days remaining … today its two numbers – 73.
Yesterday, we took a look at Henry Jordan, the best Packers player to wear #74.
The most recent player to wear the number was Daryn Colledge, who left town through free agency after he helped anchor the left side of the offensive line as the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010.But there have been a few others who have worn the number well - Tootie Robbins and Alan Veingrad are a couple.
Wearing #73 in 2014 for the Green Bay Packers is J.C. Tretter.
We will focus on a different #73 today – Aaron Taylor – one of those offensive linemen who was part of the wall of blockers put together in the mid-1990s to protect Brett Favre and open holes for Edgar Bennett and Dorsey Levens.
Though Taylor was a first round selection by Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren in the 1994 NFL Draft, he only stuck around Green Bay for four years. Following the 1997 season, Taylor moved on to play the final two years of his career for the Chargers in San Diego.
Here is how Maxymuk describes Taylor:
Injuries are a sad fact of life in the NFL. Careers are common diminished, shortened, and ended by one misstep, one slip, one bad twist, or one wrong turn.
Broken legs slowed Willie Buchanon; a broken leg coupled with hip and shoulder injuries altered the arc of Lynn Dickey‘s career; Gale Gillingham and Rich Moran blew out their knees; Eddie Lee Ivery blew out his knee in his first game and then reinjured it two years later; Nelson Toburen, Tim Lewis and Sterling Sharpe (and now Johnathan Franklin) injured their necks and had to retire immediately; Don Majkowski ruined his shoulder; Mark D’Onofrio tore up his hamstring after two games; Robert Brooks and Craig Newsome tore the anterior cruciate ligaments in their knees; Mark Chmura severely hurt his back.
Aaron Taylor came out of college a two-time consensus All American and the winner of the Lombardi Award as the best college lineman in the nation in his senior year at Notre Dame. The Packers grabbed him with the 13th pick in the first round of the 1994 draft. At 6-4, 300 pounds, he was big and strong and fast, and the Packers thought they had an anchor for their offensive line for years. Like Ivery and D’Onofrio, though, Taylor got hurt before his career even got started. He tore up his knee in training camp and sat out his rookie year on the injured reserve list.
He fought back from the first knee injury and started at right guard throughout the 1995 season until he tore up his other knee in the first game of the playoffs. Again he fought his way back, rehabilitating the other knee and playing in 1996 and 1997 with braces on both knees.
He got to two Super Bowls and was a decent player, but was probably only the fifth best starter on the team’s offensive line. As the Packers watched Taylor sign a four-year, $10.8 million free agent contract with the Chargers in 1998, Ron Wolf said of him, ‘He came back and he started, which is a great credit to him and the job that he did. He’s a pretty good player. He’s got to feel proud of his accomplishments here. He’s just not the player he was before he had those injuries. It was most noticeable in the passing game. He’s not as flexible as he was, and he doesn’t have the mobility he once had.’
Fate sometimes intervenes, as happened with Aaron Taylor. With San Diego he lasted only two years before walking away and retiring as a battered hold, a long distance from his college heroics.