Argos rally around teammate

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:06 PM ET

EDMONTON Jim Barker has been bent on building a cohesive unit with the Argonauts this season.

Because Barker has stressed enthusiasm and camaraderie, Eric Taylor probably had an easier time putting aside a family tragedy for three hours Friday night.

Taylors father, Willis Taylor, passed away in Winchester, Tenn., unexpectedly on Friday morning, but the younger Taylor didnt give a thought to not playing. Taylors teammates supported him as one, and the big defensive lineman persevered through an emotional tug-of-war.

There is something special with this team, Taylor said. They pulled behind me and really showed me what this team is about.

Taylor made his first start for the Argos, taking the spot of Adriano Belli, who is nursing a foot injury. Had Taylor decided not to play, it would have left the Argos scrambling.

I would have totally understood, and we would have gone without him, Barker said. But he said his dad wanted him to play, and it gave him as good a feeling as you can have in your heart when you lose your father. It was very tough for our whole team.

Taylors presence on the field, to put it bluntly, blew away his teammates. After, Taylor was presented with two game balls, one for himself and one for his mother.

It took a lot of courage for him to play, and the guys all rallied around him, running back Jeff Johnson said. Our hearts go out to him and his family. You could see he was playing with a lot of fire. I admire the guy, the strength that he showed, and this win was for him.

Willis Taylor was 69 and had been on dialysis for about 10 years. He was a chef at a cafeteria at a private school in Tennessee.

He was just a great guy, someone everyone respected, Eric Taylor said. He was really excited about me playing in this game.


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