Doug Gottlieb: Welcome back to "Quite Frankly." I'm Doug Gottlieb, filling in for Stephen A. My next guest has gone from being a walk-on in college to winning a Super Bowl in only this third year in the NFL. He had a huge interception in the fourth quarter, to seal the deal for the Pittsburgh Steelers, to take home their fifth Super Bowl title. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Ike Taylor.
(Polite applause, with a few Terrible Towels mixed in for good measure)
Ike Taylor: Oh boy.
DG: How about that? You come to New York City, just to show up, and you've got all these Steeler fans here?
IT: Yeah, you gotta love it, you gotta love it.
DG: The last time the football world saw you it was the fourth quarter, your team are up 14-10, the Seahawks are starting to drive, and all of a sudden you make the pick of your life. Take me through what happened.
IT: Oh, well I missed the first pick in the first quarter, so I was kinda frustrated about that. For halftime we went to the locker room and Coach was like, "If you have an opportunity – or a shot to get the same replay, come up with the ball, and we'll take care of that." So, luckily, they ran the same play; I was just in the right position to come up with the ball. And a couple of plays later Randle El threw a touchdown pass to Hines.
DG: So who's going to throw the touchdown passes this year? I mean, Roethlisberger is actually going to have to throw the ball unless Hines Ward is going to do the trick plays.
IT: We got some plays for offense, you know. Our offensive coach, coach Whisenhunt, he definitely comes up with a great game plan. We got young guys, we got some speed at receiver; Willie Parker, Duce is healthy, so we'll be ready.
DG: What did Jerome Bettis mean to your football team?
IT: A whole lot … he kept us cool. He was our locker room guy and on-the-field guy. He kept everybody together; when we were 7-5 and lost those three games straight, you know, he was one of the guys, other than the coaches, to tell us: "Let's keep our head up ... everyday is not going to be sunny."
DG: Who's the leader this year?
IT: We still have our leader. That's coach Cowher. He's always been our leader.
DG: You gotta do The Chin for me – you ever gotten The Chin?
IT: I can't do The Chin. Joey does The Chin really well –
DG: Joey Porter does the best Chin?
IT: No question.
DG: You can't even give me a little Chin?
IT: I can't give you a little bit of Chin (laughing). I can't do it (more laughing).
DG: You see, here's the thing, here's the thing: All these people out there are Steelers fans, but they don't have two-a-days coming up. You get there, national TV, you do The Chin, and got some bear crawls coming up for you.
IT: That's something you don't want. That's something you don't want .. especially going two-a-days in that heat.
DG: Ben Roethlisberger – the big story this off-season – has a motorcycle crash. You and I have spoken about this on ESPN radio. What went through your mind when you got the call and you heard that Big Ben – leader of your team – near death in that motorcycle accident?
IT: It was tough. You know, but like I said, we all make mistakes. Everyone is not perfect ... just hopefully he'll learn from the mistake he made and hopefully he'll just get back healthy and get ready for the 2006 season.
DG: Should he ride a motorcycle?
IT: We're all grown, so I can't tell a young man what to do.
DG: But it's his – this is just my estimation – he's different. Quarterback's different. And there's a reason – the quarterback – they can make a ton of money. More than you can make at your position –
DG: – but with that comes an incredible amount of responsibility as so many people – yourself; your entire defense; the coaching staff; the scouts; hell, the city of Pittsburgh. The city of Pittsburgh is a Steelers town. You guys have made that town (Applause). With that in mind – with that incredible amount of responsibility, should he be a little bit different and not be allowed maybe to make that own decision?
IT: Like I say, he's a grown man, so he's going to make his own decisions, you know. That was one of his hobbies, you know, everybody has different hobbies in the off-season; my hobby is working out and playing the PlayStation. (Laughing)
DG: That is – that is a wide pendulum there. Between working out and playing – alright PlayStation – what's your game?
IT: Madden. Madden, and I like combat games.
DG: Now, do you play offense in Madden? You put yourself on offense? (Laughing)
IT: No, I don't put myself on offense at all.
DG: You always play the Steelers?
IT: Always play the Steelers.
DG: Truth? Always play the –
IT: That is ... that is the truth.
DG: Never play another team? Never just fiddled around and been Michael Vick?
IT: Nah, I gotta play somebody else, but it's always been the Steelers.
DG: I'm not buying that.
IT: You ain't gotta buy it ... I ain't trying to sell it. (Laughing)
DG: Now, you just run off-tackle or do you throw the ball?
IT: I like to run.
DG: Three yards and a pile of dust?
IT: Yeah, because I don't know how to pass too good. (Laughing)
DG: Who's the nicest – who's the best on the team in Madden?
IT: Me. (Laughing)
DG: Who's your competition?
IT: Me. (More laughing)
DG: Now, do you do the headset thing where you play on line? Do you get your boys to come over? What do you do?
IT: I tried the headset thing a couple of times, but that's not for me because those guys are really experienced in Madden so, um, I got embarrassed a whole lot of times. (Laughing)
DG: You discuss the fact that the other thing you do is train. And I know you train like a fiend. It's an everyday thing for you. You were a walk-on coming to Louisiana Lafayette. There's walk-ons at Nebraska and walk-ons at LSU, there's walk-ons at Louisiana Lafayette. Take me back – how were you so passed up coming into college?
IT: Just the school. My high school, you know, a lot of people didn't really recruit, you know, coming from my high school. Really, I just wanted to focus on school, but my junior year (of college) I was able to walk-on at running back. You know, the coaching staff, they liked me, but my senior year we had a guy at cornerback – his name was Charles Tillman – he plays for the Chicago Bears. He was a –
DG: Oh yeah – Peanut.
IT: – Yeah, Peanut. He was heavily recruited; you know, a lot of scouts used to come and watch him, so I said my junior year I'd try to, you know, go play corner my senior year because I had the aggressiveness, it's just the technique. I really had to work on my technique. But in our system we just played man-to-man, so a lot of times coaches let me bump-and-run, get-in-your-face, so ever since then I've been on my way.
DG: If you had advice for a kid who's been passed up in high school and they want to make themselves into a player – because that's what I admire about you is you walk-on, but you got to college and made yourself, not just into a college player and you're an NFL player, now you're a Super Bowl champion – what would your advice be?
IT: – Don't take no for an answer. You can't take no for an answer.
DG: Who told you no?
IT: Just a lot of people that, you know, "You can't do this," or, "Well, it's going to be hard for you to do that." That was my motivation, you know, so I kinda took the "What you can't do" as not a good answer for me. Just the hard work; it's hard being a walk-on. You gotta fight your coaches, at the same time your coaches, you know, they recruit their guys so you gotta fight through that. It's just the walk of life, but I'm glad I went that route because it made me the person I am today.
DG: Have you ever had that moment – that stop and think moment – where you began your football career and you're a Super Bowl champion? Have you had that moment yet?
IT: To be honest with you, I haven't even paid attention to it. You know, I kinda think about it, but just that moment – what you just said – I really haven't paid attention to it.
DG: You gonna wear that ring when you get it?
IT: We already got it.
DG: So do you wear it?
IT: Off and on –
DG: Where is it now?
IT: – I've been wearing it so much, man.
DG: How can you not wear it here?
IT: – That ring is so heavy, man.
DG: It's not heavy.
IT: (Laughing) That ring is pretty heavy, man.
DG: It's heavy?
IT: I lift weights, and that's like lifting another weight, man, so I just try and be cool with it.
DG: Are you guys going to win it again this year?
IT: We'll definitely try to.
DG: I know you'll try to, but are you going to win it this year?
IT: We'll try to. We'll try to.
DG: Fair enough. Great seeing you, man.
IT: Thank you.