Every so often Steve Taylor flips on an NFL game, catches a
couple of botched plays and thinks, Man, I could do better than
that. Maybe he could. But Taylor, who as Nebraska's starting
quarterback from 1986 to '88 was a maestro of the option, never
really gave himself the chance. Just one month after finishing
his senior season, he signed a four-year deal with the CFL's
Edmonton Eskimos. Two months later the Indianapolis Colts
drafted him in the 12th round.
"I look at guys like Doug Flutie, Steve McNair, Rodney Peete and
Kordell Stewart, and they play a lot like I did," says Taylor,
32. "I wish I had given the NFL the first try."
Perhaps he should have. Taylor ranks with Turner Gill and Tommie
Frazier among the Huskers' best quarterbacks. An adept runner
and passer, he amassed 4,940 total yards, fourth on Nebraska's
career list. Because his teams never played for a national
title, however, Taylor didn't receive the acclaim accorded Gill
and Frazier. In fact, the SI cover on which he appeared was
focused on mighty Oklahoma and didn't even mention his name.
Coming out of Nebraska, Taylor believed that his best route to
the NFL would be through Canada. He thought that, like Warren
Moon and Joe Theisman, he would play a few seasons in the CFL
and then sign a fat NFL contract. Instead, he spent eight years
up north, playing for the Eskimos, the Calgary Stampeders, the
Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Ottawa Rough Riders, almost always
as a backup. He spent much of his time stuck behind such CFL
stars as Tracy Ham in Edmonton and Flutie with the 1992 Grey
Cup-winning Stampeders. After a while he stopped thinking NFL
and started thinking retirement.
"Looking back, I really had some good times in Canada," says
Taylor, whose teams reached three Grey Cups, "but three years
ago the CFL asked players to take pay cuts. I played football
for a long time. That was the signal for me to leave."
In 1995 Taylor used the off-season to attend real estate courses
at Nebraska and, after finishing the '96 season with Ottawa,
returned to Lincoln, where he lives with his wife, Stephanie,
and daughters Sydney, 4, and Skylar, 9 months. Last year, as a
sales associate with Home Real Estate, Taylor sold over $8
million in residential and investment properties.
"I was watching the New England-Miami game last season, and my
wife asked if I'd like to be playing," Taylor says. "I told her
no, it's out of my system." He pauses--"But then again...."
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER
COLOR PHOTO: TED KIRK
Taylor ranks with the best Huskers quarterbacks but never got the
acclaim given Gill and Frazier.