Where are they now: Ken Taylor

From the first moment he heard New England had won the right to face the Bears in Super Bowl XX, Ken Taylor was certain that Chicago would win.

"It's hard to describe, really" Taylor said recently. "It was much more than a hunch. It was a definite fact in my mind."

But before the cornerback could give the Bears organization his ring size, there was the matter of a game to be played.

"Super Bowl Sunday was awesome," Taylor said. "Although we were more than a little bit confident that we'd win the game, the process was overwhelming. Think back to what you saw when you watched the game on television. Everything there was a little larger than life. The crowds were enormous, and most of the people in t he stands were sporting Bears colors. It was like a home game that was being played on the road."

When asked about pre-game jitters, Taylor laughed and shook his head.

"Not a one," he said. "There had been so much publicity for so long it was more a matter of ‘OK, we're here. Let's get this thing over with.' "

But Taylor did notice some high level intensity from teammate and friend Mike Singletary.

"I'll never forget it," Taylor said. "We were standing in the tunnel waiting to be announced. You know that look Mike always had in his eyes before a game, like he was going to burn right through you. Well this was the same thing times ten. I wouldn't have wanted to have been on the opposite side of the ball that particular day."

After the contest concluded with a dominating 46-10 victory, there was the matter of serious celebration.

"Mardi Gras had nothing on us," Taylor said. "It was one heck of a night. In fact, the real party continued for days. Once we got back to Chicago, my most vivid memory was of the parade. Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets. I've never seen such crowds downtown. It was somewhat of a free for all. There was one guy who climbed a light pole just to get a chance to look into our bus. People were going crazy everywhere just wanting to be close to us. That's when we realized just how much the city valued our achievement."

During the regular season, Taylor had three interceptions, while averaging 7.9 yards on 25 punts returns. However, the Super Bowl win turned out to be the end of Taylor's career with the Bears. He went to the Chargers in 1986 where he remained until a series of knee injuries forced him to retire at the end of the 1987 season.

"I had a few surgeries on my knee," Taylor said. "There's nothing worse for a cornerback than to lose his mobility which is exactly what happened to me. And after the third time I went under the knife, the whole prospect of more medical treatment was pretty unappealing."

Taylor's next project was to manage and edit a sports magazine, Pro Athlete Insider.

"That was fun and interesting, but still not exactly what I was looking for as far as a career. As an undergrad at Oregon State University, I'd earned a degree in exercise and sports science, exercise physiology and biomechanical movement. That's the field that held my interest. I decided to put my degree to use. I moved to Portland and established Athletes in Training, a comprehensive program designed to maximize performance in school aged multi-sport athletes.

Since 1988,Taylor has worked with over 5,000 athletes. His specialties include skill improvement for those involved in anaerobic and change of direction sports such as soccer, football, basketball, softball, volleyball, tennis and track.

"This is a very satisfying profession for me," Taylor said. "It's a very personalized environment where we work closely with the coaches and the students. We want each athlete to perform to the best of his or her ability while contributing to the success of the team as a whole. It's exciting to see the progress these athletes make from one week to the next. The results can be amazing."

Taylor feels that the success he enjoyed as a Bear in 1985 have had a positive effect on his outlook ever since.

"I lived every athlete's dream," Taylor said. "When I played for Oregon State, we weren't having really great years in the Pac-10. My senior season, in fact, OSU was near the bottom of the conference. So it was somewhat of a miracle that I ended up in the NFL at all."

For Taylor, success in life is a matter of timing, perspective and good planning.

"Think about what happened to me in just a few short years," Taylor said. "I went in as an undrafted free agent and was still able to be signed by a top team. That was a combination of sheer luck and overwhelming desire. Then of course there was the chance to play as a rookie in the Super Bowl. How many athletes have entire careers without that opportunity?

"After Chicago, I was with the Chargers for a while. Then I went back home to establish a business doing something that I love. So what I learned and what I teach is to look for the best possible chance to follow your dream. And if somebody gives you a shot, go for it. Give it everything you've got. You might be surprised how well things turn out in the end."


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