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CINCINNATI - At 36, Zac Taylor is the second youngest head coach in the NFL, second only to his former boss, Rams head coach Sean McVay. Next week, Taylor will lead the Bengals in their season opener in Seattle.
Taylor is not a household name. In fact, three seasons ago he was the quarterbacks coach for the University of Cincinnati. So I sat down with Taylor to find out much more about him.
O’Rourke: "Welcome back to Cincinnati. How's it been so far?"
Taylor: "Exciting. A whirlwind couple of months, but we finally started to settle in.”
O’Rourke: "You spent 2016 here working at UC, so what was it like to come back?”
Taylor: "Good. Because we fell in love with this city in the nine months that we lived here before. You know, my wife is really happy here. My kids enjoy being in the schools here with kids that they knew. So for me, that's important as well. I'm in the office most of the day, but my family is comfortable here. They are very happy."
Taylor is soft-spoken and friendly, polite and kind - a lot like his adopted city. He says his family's happiness (he and his wife have four kids) is his No. 1 concern.
He married a woman, Sarah Sherman, who understands the toll a football life can take. Her father, Mike Sherman, was head coach of the Packers.
O'Rourke: "It's a real sacrifice for your wife and for you and your kids to be a head coach."
Taylor: "Yeah. my wife is a rock star. She's the one who keeps it all together, keeps the kids going in school."
O'Rourke: "When you were here as UC's quarterbacks coach in 2016, could you have imagined in three years you would be the head coach of the professional team in town?"
Taylor: "I could not have. I think if you told me at that time I would not have believed you."
O’Rourke: “The first time you walk on that field, will you look around and find your wife?"
Taylor: "I get emotional thinking about that. No. I think you just focus on the team. It's not about me. It's about everything that this whole organization is putting into it. So when you come on the field for the first time, you want to make sure the players are prepared, the coaching staff is prepared. There are plenty of times in this career when you can take time for yourself, but I think when we walk on the field for the first game, it's going to be about the team.”
O’Rourke: "What made you emotional about that?"
Taylor paused, turned his head away and said, "Oh, shoot." He rubbed his eyes and O'Rourke rephrased the question.
O'Rourke: "You walk on the field, who are you looking for and what does it mean that they're there?"
Taylor: "I think just my whole family. I've got family from Oklahoma. My parents will come up. My wife will be there. And those are people who have all supported me along the way, just as the players and other coaches have people in the stands as well. So I think that will be a cool moment. They've all helped us get here and everyone has someone in their life that helped them get to this point, and so that's a good reflection point for all of us."
O’Rourke: “How are we going to do this season?"
Taylor (laughs): "I'm not into predictions ... I'm just into us putting our best foot forward. And that's going to require a lot of focus and discipline from our team. And once we establish the right foundation and chemistry, which I think we are on the road to doing, then we will be able to take it one game at a time and have a really good season."