“Gentlemen, we will be successful this year if you can focus on three things, and three things only. Your family, your religion and the Green Bay Packers.”
That’s a quote from the legendary Green Pay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, in his book Commitment To Excellence, and made even more famous by being quoted in Jim Valvano’s speech at the 1993 ESPY Awards, when he received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
Well now, one of Michigan State’s own will get to live out focusing on Lombardi’s credo, after former Spartan long snapper, Taybor Pepper, signed a free agent deal with the Packers last week.
“College choice is more of the athlete’s choice, to a certain extent, because they have the opportunity to go to different places. But, once you get up to the next level, that’s kind of out of your hands, and you’re gracious for whoever wants you,” Pepper told Spartan Nation. “I’ve said this before…I’m glad that I’m going from a school like Michigan State that’s known for being blue-collar and “pulling up your bootstraps,” to an NFL program that’s also known for its hard-working fans, because the team’s owned by the fans up in Green Bay and I really appreciate that. Just being able to hopefully play in the “Frozen Tundra” one day and be known to have that sort of toughness…I’m really looking forward to that.”
It’s been a couple of years since Taybor was a member of the Spartans, so just in case you’ve forgotten what a solid, reliable player he was, here’s a quick rundown:
He was a four-year starting long snapper (2012-2015), playing in all 54 games during that span, tying him for the most of any Spartan player in school history with Mike Sadler, Marcus Rush, Shilique Calhoun, Darien Harris and Taiwan Jones. He also had ten career tackles.
While he was recovering from injury last year, he spent some of his time in the East Lansing area joining Spartan Nation’s own, Hondo Carpenter, as the color analyst on the High School Football Game of the Week.
But now he’s trading in his microphone for his cleats and pads once again, as he joins on with one of the most successful and historic franchises in professional sports, even though he hasn’t had much of a chance to experience it yet.
“I got flown out Thursday night, and it was kind of a rushed thing – getting another physical done and then signing the papers – I was already on a plane at 10:30 the next morning,” Pepper recalled of his whirlwind 24 hours singing his contract with the Packers. “So, I didn’t get to do a whole lot, but I saw a little bit of it – I got to see a good amount of the facilities when I went for my workout about a month ago. I’m ready to take it all in; I should be reporting in April, and I’m really looking forward to all of it.”
But before he heads out to “American’s Dairy Land” and sets his sights on playing in front of the “Cheeseheads” in Green Bay, Taybor will find his way back to Michigan State…but for a completely different kind of event.
On February 17th, Taybor will be participating in the Michigan State University Celebrity Roping at the Spartan Stampede, an event his father, Cam Pepper, who was an offensive lineman and played for the Philadelphia Eagles, won two years ago.
“I grew up in Oklahoma, so I’ve roped a few cattle in my day,” Taybor said. “I’ve got my eyes on the prize!”
Perhaps more importantly than his appearance in the celebrity cattle roping event, Taybor Pepper’s eyes were always set on a much bigger prize – playing in the NFL. After a long journey, complete with its own set of twists and turns, he’s reached his goal.
Taybor is actually now the second long snapper on the Packers roster, joining Brett Goode, who was the only long snapper on the roster last year. There’s obviously no way of knowing just yet whether Green Bay will carry two of them on the active roster all season long.
Of course, nothing in life is guaranteed. No one knows exactly what will happen down the road. But for now, one of Michigan State’s own is in the midst of realizing a dream that few people ever get to. Hopefully, when the 2017 NFL season rolls around in September, we’ll watch Taybor Pepper trade in his Spartan green and white for Packers green and gold.