Going into his senior year at Longview High School, Bobby Taylor had a choice to make.
Taylor, at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds at the time, was being recruited to play football and basketball, and he didn’t want it to be a distraction for either of his teams.
He still played both sports his senior season, winning a state championship in basketball, but decided the gridiron was where he saw his future. It turned out to be a good decision.
Taylor was a consensus All-American as a cornerback during his junior season at Notre Dame in 1994, then spent 10 seasons in the NFL, nine of which came with the Philadelphia Eagles.
That followed a high school football career in which he was a two-time Class 5A all-state pick, and he was named to the first-team defense on the UIL all-century team in 2009.
Now he has been chosen for another honor, as he’ll enter the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame today.
“It was surprising. When I was growing up and playing I never even knew the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame existed, so over the last (few years) when the UIL all-century team came out and I made the first team, I didn’t even know what was going on. To get that notoriety and to get this as well is a blessing.”
Taylor is the son of the late Robert Taylor, who won a silver medal in the 100-meter dash and a gold as part of the then-world record-holding 4x100 relay at the 1972 Olympics. The younger Taylor said track and field was his first love growing up, and he won a state championship running the anchor leg on Longview’s 4x400 relay as a senior.
Baskeball came next, and then football, but he excelled in all three.
“I was fortunate enough where I was encouraged as a young boy to play as many sports as I could,” Taylor said. “Now that’s one of the things when I talk to different high-schoolers or junior high kids, a lot of them talk about specializing in one sport. I tell them to try more than one thing. When they put all their eggs in one basket, that’s not good.”
Despite all of his success at Notre Dame and in the NFL, where he is remembered most for his physical battles with Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin, his most cherished memories happened in Longview. In 2009, he became the first Lobo football player to have his jersey, No. 24, retired.
“Even now when I go back to visit the school and watch the teams play, a football games I want to be on the sidelines,” Taylor said. “I want to be close to the game, like I’m still playing. I like to show the kids the passion I still have for my school and hopefully that will inspire them to do their best.”
Nowadays, Taylor is keeping busy by producing his own fashion line and he also joined with some of his former teammates in starting a financial institution called Eltekon Financial.
He also spends his time working out, trying to avoid being one of the staggering number of former athletes who have seen their health deteriorate, and raising his son Bobby Jaiden.
“My little boy’s 8, and last season was his first playing tackle football,” Taylor said. “I’m just trying to help him out. There’s no pressure for him to play, but I’m staying active as much as I can.”
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