By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports
The pictures, taken both inside and outside NFL stadiums from San Francisco to Philadelphia, are collectively a colorful football photo album of family and team, support and joy, togetherness and love.
Trent Taylor, all 5-8, 180 pounds of him, is the roadshow’s star, as he was first at Evangel High and then at Louisiana Tech, where he led the nation in receiving yards as a senior in 2016.
But Taylor, who’ll likely return punts and play some slot for AFC Champion Cincinnati in Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., at 5:30 CST, is more Team Trent than solo act, just one part of this traveling band of brothers and sisters based mainly in Tennessee — but a bunch who lives by the motto, “Have game, will travel.”
Tickets requests for Sunday’s Supe? “It’s crazy,” said Trent’s dad Greg, a competitive businessman, professional encourager and coach and former undersized linebacker at Western Kentucky — but soft inside as a prevent defense. “Probably got 30 names. We’ve just got a huge family, blessed with so many friends…
“I know God’s put it on my heart to share this experience…” he said — his voice broke — “…to share this with as many people as you can. I’m a positive person but I never dreamed…” Paused again … “And I’ve had some crazy dreams! I’m just happy we can all share this.”
What they’ve shared is the career of Trent, who got one college scholarship offer. It was enough. He has the pictures to prove it.
Forty members of Team Trent outside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Twenty in Chicago. Trent clasping hands with big brother Trey, himself an ex-college receiver, after Cincy’s wild card win over Vegas. Victory smiles the next week after beating the favored Titans.
“We’ve been watching football every fall weekend since … what, 2013?” Greg said. He and Trent’s mom Mickey would point the Toyota Sequoia south from their Nashville-area home, cruise to Arkansas-Monticello to watch Trey, then to Ruston for Trent. Sometimes they’d divide and conquer. Often they’d see Trey one weekend, Trent the next. Almost never were they at games without extra friends or family.
“Maybe we could have retired twice if I’d have kept the travel money and invested it,” Greg said, but laughed as he did. “You can’t put a grade on these experiences. You can’t put a price on the bonding that happens because of this.”
The pictures illustrate that. If they were scratch ’n’ sniffs, you’d smell sweat and want-to and the unrestrained joy that comes from its payoff, the satisfying aroma of competing for a common cause. The smell of victory.
Taylor comes from a football playing dad, a football coaching grandfather, and a mom who competed in world fitness events. The ideal size wasn’t there but the genes were. The heart was born honest, inherited from kin tested by the trying coal mining camps of east Kentucky.
It might explain how Trent battled through six surgeries in the past two years while a San Francisco 49er, kept the faith this fall on Cincinnati’s practice squad, and wound up in the end zone with the game-tying two-point conversion catch in the second half of the AFC title game, a 27-24 overtime win against Kansas City.
With the Bengals down 21-3 and KC receiving the second half kickoff, Mickey looked at Greg, perched five rows from the top of Arrowhead Stadium, and said, “This is either going to be a horrible story or one that has a great ending.”
Their view ended up being perfect. And the pictures two hours later were all smiles. And tears — the good kind.
And picture this: Mickey and Greg and his two brothers and their wives head for SoFi Thursday. More on the Team Trent roster will roll in by Saturday. The party is Sunday. Another weekend, no matter what, of priceless pictures.
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