November 30, 1987
Every so often Steve Taylor flips on an NFL game, catches a couple of botched plays and thinks, Man, I could do better than that. Maybe he could. But Taylor, who as Nebraska's starting quarterback from 1986 to '88 was a maestro of the option, never really gave himself the chance. Just one month after finishing his senior season, he signed a four-year deal with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos. Two months later the Indianapolis Colts drafted him in the 12th round.
"I look at guys like Doug Flutie, Steve McNair, Rodney Peete and Kordell Stewart, and they play a lot like I did," says Taylor, 32. "I wish I had given the NFL the first try."
Perhaps he should have. Taylor ranks with Turner Gill and Tommie Frazier among the Huskers' best quarterbacks. An adept runner and passer, he amassed 4,940 total yards, fourth on Nebraska's career list. Because his teams never played for a national title, however, Taylor didn't receive the acclaim accorded Gill and Frazier. In fact, the SI cover on which he appeared was focused on mighty Oklahoma and didn't even mention his name.
Coming out of Nebraska, Taylor believed that his best route to the NFL would be through Canada. He thought that, like Warren Moon and Joe Theisman, he would play a few seasons in the CFL and then sign a fat NFL contract. Instead, he spent eight years up north, playing for the Eskimos, the Calgary Stampeders, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Ottawa Rough Riders, almost always as a backup. He spent much of his time stuck behind such CFL stars as Tracy Ham in Edmonton and Flutie with the 1992 Grey Cup-winning Stampeders. After a while he stopped thinking NFL and started thinking retirement.
"Looking back, I really had some good times in Canada," says Taylor, whose teams reached three Grey Cups, "but three years ago the CFL asked players to take pay cuts. I played football for a long time. That was the signal for me to leave."
In 1995 Taylor used the off-season to attend real estate courses at Nebraska and, after finishing the '96 season with Ottawa, returned to Lincoln, where he lives with his wife, Stephanie, and daughters Sydney, 4, and Skylar, 9 months. Last year, as a sales associate with Home Real Estate, Taylor sold over $8 million in residential and investment properties.
"I was watching the New England- Miami game last season, and my wife asked if I'd like to be playing," Taylor says. "I told her no, it's out of my system." He pauses—"But then again...."