Fred Taylor has his sights set on Jim Brown.
"I'm going to have a better season. I'm on a mission. I'm just trying to catch Jim Brown and then we'll close the curtains," Taylor told jaguars.com during a visit to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on Wednesday.
Taylor has rushed for 10,715 yards in his 10-year career. Brown rushed for 12,312 in nine seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Taylor, therefore, needs 1,598 yards to move past Brown and into eighth place on the NFL's all-time rushing list.
"My admiration for what he did; it's within reach," Taylor said of Brown and his rushing total, which stood for nearly 20 years as the figure all running backs were chasing. "He's a guy I respect; to do what he did statistically and the way he put fear in defenses, and he did all of that in nine years," Taylor added.
Taylor said he recently "bumped" into Brown in Miami's South Beach. "I said hello. He said, 'The way you run the ball, keep it up.'"
The 2007 season was one of Taylor's best. From a standpoint of personal fulfillment and acclaim, it was without a doubt his best. He became one of the league's most beloved and celebrated players and he capped the season with his first-ever appearance in the Pro Bowl.
"Last year was the most fun I had in football. Just everything; the guys, the team. I was like, please, don't break this up. It took us back to 1998, '99. You talk about bringing attention to a city?" Taylor said.
Taylor has three years remaining on his contract, but if he's serious about closing the "curtains" after he passes Brown, Taylor could bow out a year prior to playing out his current deal.
"I can play as long as I want. I really believe that. But I'm not going to play as long as I want. I watch these older players walk around. I don't want to walk around like Shack Harris. I want to enjoy my family and my kids. There's going to be an end one day. I want to honor my contract but that would be in a perfect world. Twelve years would be ideal," said Taylor, who will be in his 11th season this year.
Taylor was at Jaguars headquarters on Wednesday to meet with coaches and touch bases before heading back to south Florida to resume his rigid offseason conditioning program. He said he'll return to Jacksonville in May and June for veteran camp and mini-camp.
His Wednesday stop in Jacksonville allowed jaguars.com to get Taylor's views on recent news events and issues.
• What do you think of the 2008 schedule?
"The league doesn't necessarily like the Jaguars. Only three prime-time games, compared to Cleveland's five? I thought you at least have to make the playoffs," Taylor said. "We don't have that three-game stretch like last year. I like that. Hopefully, we don't get ambushed (by Tennessee in the opener) like last year. Chicago and Baltimore will give us a chance to show the kind of football we bring to the table. I like the bye week in the middle. I like the schedule," Taylor said.
"You go to Indy. You jump out. The month of September is going to determine our season. You have to start fast. The first eight games are AFC games. We've got to be sharp early," he added.
• What are your thoughts on David Garrard's new contract?
"I was talking to Dave prior to finalizing everything. I was telling him to be patient because he had the leverage. I thought he could've got a better deal, but I'm happy for Dave. He's our guy, definitely. He's now going to have to learn how to deal with expectations. He's good at taking blows and bouncing back up. Expectations are going to be so high," Taylor said. "Dave opened a lot of eyes; even with the fedora. It's tough to go as long as he did without throwing an interception. I'm not expecting that. I think he's going to have a better year."
• How about your coach's new contract?
"Spread the love, baby. He deserved it. He's built a pretty solid team," Taylor said of Jack Del Rio.
• Who is faster, you or Maurice Jones-Drew?
"That's a no-brainer. Would people pay to see me and Maurice race? I would smoke Maurice on pay-per-view," Taylor said.
• Are you anxious about high expectations for the Jaguars?
"It's not a problem. You get out there on Sunday and you don't remember those predictions. As a player, we don't give a darn," Taylor said.
• What would you like to see the Jaguars accomplish in the draft?
"I'd like to see a little more pressure from the front four. That hurt us a little bit against Tom Brady. I can tell you that it was a lack of pressure. I don't know what's out there in the draft," Taylor said.
• Do you expect to continue to share carries with Jones-Drew?
"It works. He's a blessing in disguise. The pounding? I don't have to deal with the wear and tear. With Mo, I have all the faith in the world the offense won't miss a beat and he'll get the job done," Taylor said.
• Will Jones-Drew remain content to share carries?
"I know right now he is, but you're going to come to a point that he's going to want his due. He's going to come to contract time. In my eyes, I want to be the man. He's going to feel like it's time to take the training wheels off. I love Mo. Honestly, I do. We talk all the time," Taylor said.
• What if Jones-Drew assumes the dominant role?
"I can handle that. I did it in college. I almost had to do it here with (James Stewart). I can handle it. I'm handling it now. I have to be able to keep my head high," Taylor said.
• Who are your top five all-time running backs?
"Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Eric Dickerson. I'll throw Emmitt (Smith) in there. I'm still learning. It interests me a whole lot more now," Taylor said.
• What is your number one goal for the 2008 season?
"I want to make it to Tampa and not buy my own ticket. I want to earn my way to Tampa playing football. It's attainable. The stars have to align. Everything has to be just right," Taylor said.
Taylor is one of five finalists for the Pro Football Writers of America's "Good Guy" award. The other four finalists are Brett Favre, Bob Sanders, Darren Sharper and Jason Taylor.