Now that it is official, and running back Fred Taylor will announce his retirement Friday, I want to make something else official.
Taylor is the most underappreciated player of our generation.
I mean it.
When Taylor was at his best, he was as good as any back who has played the game. He was big. He was strong. He was explosive. He was the prototype for the current NFL style of play before it became chic to be what I call an "air" runner, a guy who operated in space.
Taylor was a home-run threat every time he touched the ball.
Taylor retires as the 15th-best rusher of all time with 11,695 yards. He is 617 yards behind Jim Brown's career total, which is significant because that's the number Taylor always yearned to surpass.
Injuries prevented that. They also helped unfairly tarnish his legacy.
Fragile Fred was a name given to him early in his career as he battled through some injuries. What people failed to realize was how significant some of those injuries were -- and how the team hung him out to take the heat.
Taylor actually ripped the muscle from the bone during in the second game of the 2001 season. The injury was so painful, it looked like he was shot and he actually dropped the football.
But the Jaguars kept saying he'd be back week in and week out -- even though there was no chance.
Fragile Fred was born.
It wasn't fair.
Taylor was an amazing runner. Here's how special: In his career, he averaged at least 4.5 per carry for an entire season eight times.
Of the 14 men ahead of him on the all-time rushing list, only Brown and Detroit's Barry Sanders got to 4.5 per-carry for a season eight times.
Emmitt Smith did it three times. Walter Payton and Marshall Faulk five times. LaDainian Tomlinson four times. Curtis Martin did it just once.
That puts Taylor's explosive ability into perspective.
What hurts Taylor is a lack of touchdowns. He rushed for only 66, which is the lowest of the backs in the top 15. The absurdity is that the Jaguars would take him out on the goal line. Dumb.
Not only was Taylor a great player, he's an even better person. When he walked into the locker room in 1998, he was a kid who barely talked. He was shy. He was cautious.
When he left the Jaguars in 2008, he was a changed man. He was mature. He was confident. He spoke his mind. He was the team's leader.
It was good to see him grow into that right before my eyes.
Taylor was one of my favorite players to deal with on a regular basis, but I also truly appreciate what he was as a football player.
My last assignment covering the Jaguars before coming to CBS Sports.com in November of 2000 was Taylor's Sunday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He set a Three Rivers Stadium record by running for 234 yards and scoring four touchdowns.
It was a special night for a special player.
It's just too bad that not enough people appreciated his talents. Taylor played in just one Pro Bowl. He also never played in a Super Bowl, losing once in the AFC Title game in 1999 when the Jaguars stopped giving him the ball.
But I want all those who vote for the Hall to look at his tape. Look at the numbers. No offense to Floyd Little, who just got in last year but he averaged over 4.5 once in his career and he is 64th all-time on the rushing list.
Taylor blows those numbers away.
So maybe now Taylor can finally get the appreciation he's so sorely lacked.