ring OU’s media day, the gregarious Taylor stood on Owen Field, telling and retelling his story for almost an hour.
When my leg broke 15 years ago, I felt the pain in my throat. Taylor said that sensation didn’t hit him, but he called the pain, on a scale of 1-to-10, a “13.”
The scene resorted to madness. Some Sooners started yelling for help. Others turned away, not wishing to see the morbid injury. On the sidelines, fellow d-tackle JaMarkus McFarland first knew the injury was bad when he saw McCoy rambling to the bench in tears. Linebacker Ronnell Lewis knew it was serious upon hearing Taylor yell, a scream unlike anything he had ever heard.
“Probably the worst injury I’ve witnessed,” said defensive end Jeremy Beal. “Just a horrific injury. When you see a foot turn where it’s not supposed to turn, it’s pretty gruesome.”
Taylor said he blocked out the pain by immediately thinking of the ramifications: “All I could think, ‘I wanted to help my team. I wanted to help my team.’ That was the only thought going through my mind.”
Taylor thought of McFarland, who would be his replacement, and hoped McFarland wouldn’t get nervous.
Taylor thought of the Sun Bowl itself. “We needed to win this game,” Taylor thought. “We hadn’t won a bowl game in however long. I wanted to play. I wanted to win.”
Soon enough, Taylor was in the locker room, his mother by his side, and the Sooners beat Stanford, 31-27.
A month later, Taylor finally willed himself to watch a tape of the play, and now 71/2 months later, he’s willing himself to return to the line of scrimmage, the vicious pit where he went one way and his ankle went the other.
“I’m anxious to get out there, see what I can do,” Taylor said. “I feel like I’m on pace to be ready. I never doubted I wouldn’t be able to. I’m not a quitter.”
So Taylor is back, learning to trust that leg again, learning to burst off the ball, learning to anchor himself to the grass while he fights off blockers.
He needs to become his old self, for the good of the Sooners and for the good of Adrian Taylor.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.