SURREY, B.C. — Courtney Taylor began to feel the twitches in his right eye in 2008.
They prevented the receiver from seeing the ball the way he normally would. Taylor was playing for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks at the time.
Little did he know then that they would lead to him being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an often crippling disease that attacks the central nervous system and often affects a person’s vision.
Taylor was released by the Seahawks in 2009 and has struggled to return to the gridiron.
Four years following his original diagnosis, he has now fought his way back to pro football.
Battling his way back
“It means a lot to me to show this (Lions) organization the guy that they invested in, because it was like I was giving up. Nobody was gonna give me no shot. But these guys gave me a shot, and that’s the biggest thing going in. I want to prove to these guys that they made a good decision for future guys who have MS – because it scares people. People who are not really educated about (MS), it scares them.”
– BC Lions receiver Courtney Taylor
After making his first start a two weeks ago in place of an injured Arland Bruce lll, Taylor scored his first touchdownwith the BC Lions last week in their convincing win over the Ticats.
He joined B.C. on Oct. 11, 2011, but had yet to play a down in the regular season until Week 14 of this year.
“I’ve been waiting for this for about three years,” said Taylor.
The chance to shine in the most critical time of the season comes after Taylor searched in vain for a break. After being released by the Seahawks, he spent two years out of football, working as a mover in Seattle while completing a degree in business administration.
“I came from the streets…I was at home. When I got this opportunity, I was excited to come back and play football. That’s how I view it. I get an opportunity to play and do something I love, so I want to take advantage of my opportunities”
The Lions’ depth at receiver is well-documented and with Taylor and sophomore Nick Moore thrust into the starting lineup and performing more than admirably, it may be tough to take them out of the lineup once Bruce and fellow injured pass-catcher Geroy Simon return.
In his two games, Taylor has 8 receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown.
“The thing is, this is our opportunity,” said Taylor, a 28-year-old Carrollton, Ala., native.
“This is our opportunity to step up and show the coaches that, hey, you guys made the right decision by keeping us here and putting us behind some of the best receivers ever to play the game, in my opinion, in (Bruce) and (Simon).”
Taylor is now in remission, showing no ill effects of any kind, and takes medication once a day to keep it in check.
“The only time I think about it is when I take a little pill every day,” he said. The former Auburn star became his school’s all-time leading receiver with 153 receptions for 2,098 yards and nine touchdowns from 2003 to 2006. But he played sparingly with Seattle from 2007 to 2009 before the Seahawks waived him and there were no takers.
“It means a lot to me to show this (Lions) organization the guy that they invested in, because it was like I was giving up,” he said. “Nobody was gonna give me no shot. But these guys gave me a shot, and that’s the biggest thing going in. I want to prove to these guys that they made a good decision for future guys who have MS – because it scares people. People who are not really educated about (MS), it scares them.”
Fellow Lions receiver Marco Iannuzzi’s mother has MS and the Calgary native participates in several charitable events and other activities in a bid to help find a cure. Iannuzzi said Taylor is in a much better state than many other MS sufferers.
“He’s obviously in full remission,” said Iannuzzi. “I think it’s fantastic that he’s able to keep his health in order to perform at the professional level at this stage.”
Taylor will likely draw his next start this Friday night when the Lions host the surging Edmonton Eskimos at BC Place.