Ike Taylor became the fourth blue blood of the Pittsburgh Steelers' championship defenses in the new millennium to retire or leave the team this off-season.
Taylor, like Troy Polamalu before him, was drafted in 2003 and remained with the Steelers for 12 years.
“We came in together, we were going out together,” Taylor told Steelers.com. “That is how we rock. We came in, we are leaving together. That is my loyalty to that man. I said once Troy does his, I will decide. That is what I owe to Troy.”
Taylor retires after playing in 174 regular-season games with 140 starts, 648 tackles, 14 interceptions, four fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.
The turnover percentage is low, and that had been Taylor's only knock as a two-time championship cornerback. He did intercept a key pass in Super Bowl XL, and for 12 years was fast, tall, durable, and as Dick LeBeau's defense evolved Taylor became a legitimate shutdown corner in the classic sense.
LeBeau, through Taylor's prime years, used Ike to shadow the opponent's top receiver.
Taylor lost his job only once, under Bill Cowher in 2006, but came back and started 60 consecutive games until sitting out one game in 2010.
Last year he broke his forearm in a freakish collision with teammate Lawrence Timmons and returned after missing eight games. But Taylor couldn't find his rhythm and then injured his shoulder and missed the remainder of the season. He wasn't offered a contract by the Steelers and retired Tuesday morning.
"I wasn't cut," Taylor told Steelers.com. "I wasn't released. It was just my contract was up and it was time to retire."
Taylor's loss will also be felt in a Steelers locker room that's already lost Polamalu, Brett Keisel and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau this off-season. Keisel, injured, was released; LeBeau was fired; and Polamalu retired. The latter was disappointed that he was asked to retire and called only Dan Rooney with his decision.
Taylor, too, raised Dan Rooney up when he talked with Steelers.com.
“What will always stand out about playing here for me, is sleeping in Mr. Rooney’s office when I was tired one day,” Taylor said. “He asked his son to leave so I could rest. Who does that? Nobody does that. Not a Hall of Fame owner. But he did."