"I was just a rookie coming in here not knowing a whole lot, just walking with my head down, not having the most confidence, just trying to figure it all out, telling myself, 'I just want to play three years and go back to Belle Glade,'" Taylor said. "I don't know what I was thinking, but it's amazing how time flies. If you just stay the course, eventually great things will happen. This is a special moment."
Taylor will be the second player and fourth person to join the Pride of the Jaguars. Former left tackle Tony Boselli was inducted in 2006, and original team owners Wayne and Delores Weaver were added during their home finale in January.
New owner Shad Khan called Taylor "a Jaguars icon" and lauded his work on and off the field.
General manager Gene Smith, who was a scout when the Jaguars selected Taylor with the ninth overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft, said there were plenty of questions about choosing Taylor so high.
"I think over the course of time he proved why he was taken that high," Smith said. "He was someone that I would say had tremendous humility, and humility is something I think all successful people have in life. Great player. When I think of Fred Taylor, I think of grace. I know he's got a lot of physical skills, just rare gifts."
Taylor ranks 15th on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 11,695 yards. He played 11 seasons in Jacksonville (1998-2008). He spent his final two seasons in New England before deciding to call it quits during the NFL lockout. He signed a ceremonial contract with Jacksonville last September and retired.
"The NFL is an amazing business," Taylor said. "I call it 'life school.' It's taught me a lot, character development. It's given me an opportunity to walk around with my head up and be that confident person that I never thought I would be. I'm still humble. I think that's the best approach, but a special business and special place in my life, a special moment. I'm extremely thankful."
The Jaguars are, too. The franchise seemingly needed something positive after spending the last two weeks dealing with negative events.
Rookie Justin Blackmon was arrested early Sunday in Stillwater, Okla., after a breath test allegedly showed his blood alcohol content to be three times the legal limit. He pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence Monday and apologized for his "poor judgment" Wednesday.
Days before his arrest, the city told the Jaguars they had defaulted on their stadium contract. The move prompted a blistering letter from Khan. The city eventually withdrew its charge, calling the whole thing a misunderstanding.
Both incidents came in the middle of a "Jaguars Caravan," where players, coaches and cheerleaders visit neighboring counties in an effort to drum up interest and beef up ticket sales.
Taylor's announcement certainly turned the spotlight in a different direction.
He became a fan favorite, a loyal teammate and an outspoken leader unafraid to talk about any subject. He was the face of the franchise for much of the 2000s and piled up seven 1,000-yard seasons and 48 100-yard games. Despite gaudy stats, Taylor made just one Pro Bowl — partly because he spent much of his career in one of league's smallest markets.
He also had to deal with injury and adversity, none more prominent that a torn hamstring early in his career that led to the nickname "Fragile Fred" and a rogue agent, Tank Black, who bilked him for millions.
"I'm glad all of that happened," Taylor said. "It's a piece of me. It's just my fabric. That's my story. That's what makes it special. The NFL is a revolving door. It's a young man's game. There are going to be a million more young guys play after me. As long as I'm alive, I'll be able to share those experiences. That's the reality of it. You learn from those things. Like I said, for me, I don't think it could have happened to a better person because I was able to stand up in the face of all of it and persevere. I think I won.
"I think I'm able to share a whole lot, not only with the players, but with my kids. I have five sons. God gave me five boys for a reason. It's tough, especially in this society nowadays with the access with the social media and all that stuff. It's dangerous out there. For me to be able to go through the stuff that I've gone through, I have a lot to share."