Yesterday Greg used our little hand-held interview recorder (which you know has gotten very little use in the podcast) to interview one of the guys we work with in the fire department. He played in the NFL, the CFL, and even the "World League of American Football" in Europe...back in the late 80's and early 90's.
Gene Taylor...Wide Receiver out of Fresno State (where he played with current Raiders Running Backs Coach Kelly Skipper by the way), was taken by the New England Patriots in the 6th round of the NFL draft of 1987. Two games later the NFL players went on strike. Gene tells his story of a young, eager football player having the dream of playing in the NFL since childhood....and how starting his rookie season by going out on strike may have hindered his career just as he was trying to establish and prove himself. The next four years he spent time with the Tampa Bay Bucs, the San Francisco 49ers, the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL (they won the Grey Cup that year), the LA Rams, the Barcelona Dragons (where Gene was one of the league's top 10 receivers), and finally back to the Patriots.
Since this interview was almost an hour long, we're going to split it up into two podcasts. Shows 304 and 305. In show 304, Gene tells the story of his football career, what it was like going to the NFL Scouting Combine in 1987 (when it was only about two years into existence), what it was like to go out on strike, what it's like trying to fight for a roster spot, having to move to another team, and more. The 2nd half of the interview, that we will include in Show 305, Gene and Greg discuss the current NFL labor lockout issue and all the factors surrounding that (an 18 game season, player health, concussions, free agency issues, a rookie pay scale, etc). Gene, who grew up right here in Oakland, even talks about how he still plays golf a few times a year with Raiders legend Mike Davis (who's interception against the Browns in snowy Cleveland in 1981 led to their Superbowl appearance and victory that year).....and he also tells a story of meeting a younger Hue Jackson....who coached for the London Monarchs when Gene played for the Barcelona Dragons. Gene even promises Greg that he'll try to pull on some of those old connections to try to get us into Raiders training camp this season.
We're hoping to get Show 304 out sometime late tomorrow (Wednesday 3/8), and Show 305 should be out a few days after that.
I really enjoyed listening to this interview, and I think you guys will too. A nice change of pace from our regular shows, not that I don't like listening to just Greg talk all the time.....but......well......like I said........it was a "nice change of pace".
I think it fit in well with the CBA negotiations going on, and it's nice to hear about it from the perspective of someone who actually played the game....and nice to be able to feature a guy we work with who is a truly a nice and genuine person. The NFL's loss was the fire department's gain.
Here's Gene's Wiki page I stumbled upon:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Taylor_%28American_football%29
and here's a photo of Gene making a great catch for the Barcelona Dragons