Tom Coughlin had tried to swing a trade with the Chicago Bears to draft Curtis Enis, but the Bears' demands kept rising and the deal didn't get done. That left Coughlin, a distinct needs drafter, with only one option: to draft Fred Taylor.
Nine seasons later, Taylor is over 9,000 yards rushing in his career and still going strong, Coughlin is the head coach of the New York Giants and Enis is long out of the game. Monday night at Alltel Stadium, Taylor and Coughlin will tread the same turf again, though on different sides of the field.
"It's a game we gotta win," Taylor said, referring to the Jaguars' pursuit of a wild-card playoff berth. Taylor is one of 13 Jaguars players remaining from the Coughlin era.
Oh, yeah, this is a big one, for both teams. The Jaguars are 5-4 and in the third leg of a three-game home stand. A second consecutive loss would send the Jaguars on the road in a demoralized state.
The Giants are 6-3 and coming off a tough Sunday night loss to the Chicago Bears in which Coughlin's decision to attempt a 52-yard field goal resulted in a touchdown return by the Bears that was the turning point in the game. Coughlin was vilified by the New York media this week for the decision to attempt the field goal.
If finding a kind word is tough for Coughlin in New York this week, he need only turn to his former star running back, Taylor, who waxed nostalgic about his former coach on Tuesday.
"I was actually one of the few guys who didn't want him to leave," Taylor said.
Now, isn't that nice?
The man did cut a wide swath, didn't he? Coughlin's eight years in Jacksonville were not spent making friends. Always, he was a coach dedicated solely to winning, and Taylor says he still respects that about Coughlin.
"I respect him a whole lot," Taylor said. "It was his first go-round. He probably felt he needed to do a lot of ticky-tacky things. Take that away and he was the perfect coach."
The rap on Coughlin was that he roughed up his players unnecessarily, fining them for minor violations, such as loose ties during travel. Taylor laughed as he told the story of Coughlin fining a young defensive tackle, Emarlos Leroy, for wearing a blue and orange suit Keenan McCardell arranged to have made for Leroy, as part of a bet on a Georgia-Florida game. Leroy had played at Georgia.
"He said that's not appropriate business attire," Taylor said. "He would fine you to frighten you to make you walk the straight and narrow path, which was a good method."
What Coughlin never told his players was that he also fined them to intentionally irritate, even anger them. Coughlin believes football is best played with an edge and if his players don't have that edge, he'll give it to them.
"You would win games because of the small details," Taylor said. "He watched you so closely, such as handing the ball to the referee instead of dropping it because it saved you a half second.
"He was old school. He stuck to his routine. He was going to make that meeting 15 minutes long, even if it didn't need to be. He was disciplined in his routine," Taylor said.
Coughlin was to talk to Jacksonville reporters in a conference call late Wednesday morning. Questions about his emotions for returning to Jacksonville on Monday night will no doubt be at the forefront of questions, and Coughlin will no doubt dodge the emotional angle.
"He'll be all business. I guarantee that much," Taylor said of what he expects from his former coach on Monday.
"I'll say hi," Taylor added.
Jaguars offensive tackle Khalif Barnes spoke with reporters on Tuesday and addressed the issue of his DUI arrest in the wee hours of last Saturday morning.
"I learned a valuable lesson. More was at risk than getting in trouble; like the lives of other people," Barnes said, referring to a speeding citation that accompanied the arrest. "I'm a man. I accept responsibility for it. I'm a proud person. The biggest thing is that I let my teammates down. If we were going to lose, I wanted to lose with them," Barnes added.
Coach Jack Del Rio deactivated Barnes for this past Sunday's game against the Texans. Barnes is expected to be returned to his starting left tackle position against the Giants.