For Kerry Taylor it was a wild ride that included a highly controversial TV interview about the state of his alma mater that included sharp criticism of then head coach Dennis Erickson. It was followed by short stints on five different NFL teams before landing back at home, in the Valley of the Sun and becoming a member of the Arizona Cardinals.
“Since I left ASU my journey has been a long one to get where I am at now,” Taylor reflected. “It’s been lots of traveling being on different teams, different cities.”
When the curtain went down on Taylor’s Arizona State career he collected 112 career receptions for 1,433 yards and seven touchdowns. He was described in the team's media guide as ‘being a significant contributor to the team and played in 46 of a possible 49 games in his four seasons with the Sun Devils.’
Yet, in Taylor’s eyes his ASU career was less than ideal. After going undrafted in the NFL, he spoke out about the program’s state of affairs and Erickson, whom Taylor believed was anything but the right fit as a head coach for the Sun Devils. These comments sent shock waves throughout the Valley, but a year later though the essence of his words proved to be true.
“When I made my comments about Erickson I knew people here would listen to what I had to say,” Taylor explained, “because a lot of people here know me and know the football background I come from. I knew it was something that needed to be said, and I wasn't afraid to stand up for what was right.
“That next season confirmed everything that I said was the problem and I'm glad ASU made a change. Still till this day ASU fans thank me for being the one to make a statement. I just want to see ASU win, and the kids that choose to go there to have a good college experience.”
Taylor mentioned he hadn’t been back on campus since that 2011 interview, but that he does keep in contact with some of the current ASU coaches and players. His first appearance at Sun Devil stadium is slated for October 19th when the Cardinals will have a bye week and Arizona State takes on the University of Washington, where his younger brother Kendyl plays at.
These days, the wide receiver appears much more encouraged about the upward trend the ASU program is experiencing under its second-year head coach, Todd Graham.
“I like what Coach Graham has done with the program at ASU so far,” Taylor commented. “I like the energy he has brought and the discipline and accountability he has instilled in the team. I think they are headed in a great direction that I am very excited about. I haven't had a chance yet to meet Coach Graham but I hope to soon.”
In the summer of 2011 Taylor got picked up by the Green Bay Packers. He spent less than two months there before signing with the New England Patriots. Then it was on to the Minnesota Vikings, then back to the Patriots, and ultimately arriving back home with the Arizona Cardinals. The constant moves were trying, yet Taylor was able to keep optimistic throughout the exhausting process.
“It's tough not getting drafted when you feel like you should have, but things don't always happen the way you want,” Taylor admitted. “Going to multiple practice squads was very interesting but also pretty hard mentally. Trying to catch on a team late, learn the playbook when your behind, and just everyday life in a new city was difficult.
“But there were definitely positives with every place that I went, I was able to watch and learn a lot from different top receivers in the league. And that helped me develop my game even more.”
Despite being a standout in the Cardinals’ pre-season camp, and a player many of the local media believed would be on the team’s season opening roster, Taylor’s dreams fell short as he failed to make the 53-man roster for the third year in a row. He was however placed on the team’s practice squad.
On September 17th Taylor received the the call that he was longing for that he was being promoted to the 53-man roster and that he would play in that week’s game against the Detroit Lions.
“My immediate thoughts about being moved up were this is my shot,” Taylor recalled. “I was happy for my family, because I know how much they wanted to see my dream come true. It was a great moment.”
In his first appearance as an Arizona Cardinal, Taylor came out of the tunnel at the University of Phoenix Stadium to a roaring home crowd, an experience that easily ranks up there as one of the biggest moments in his football career. Nonetheless, with all that excitement also came a great deal of comfort.
“Playing in your hometown makes everything easier, from a football aspect and also an everyday life aspect,” Taylor said. “I'm not renting apartments or renting a car anymore. I'm home where my house is, where my cars are. I have all my belonging here; I don't have to worry about shipping things back and forth. I know how to get around the city; I'm not out searching for things. It allows me to spend all my focus on football.”
Taylor had three receptions for 40 yards against the Lions, earning him a game ball from his head coach Bruce Arians. Taylor can only hope such a performance helps to solidify his spot on the team but as he knows all too well nothing is ever promised in the NFL.
The wide receiver’s most rewarding part of his trials and tribulations was making the Cardinals’ game day roster and being able to play in his hometown. His advice to players who are going through the same process, or may be going through it in the future was one of perseverance.
“Never give up,” Taylor said. Things might not always go as planned or hoped, but keep fighting for your dream until you get there.”