Super Bowl champ has Albion roots
Matt Taylor is assistant video director for Tampa Bay Bucs
ALBION – Matt Taylor dreamed of being in the NFL when he was a kid and in college. The 1996 Albion grad played for the Albion Purple Eagles and was a 6-foot, 230-pound defensive lineman for Ithaca College.
Taylor, 43, earned a degree in sports management at Ithaca. His path to the NFL wasn’t for his exploits on the field. He excelled in video, in filming practices and games and making those images available to coaches and players.
Taylor is the assistant video director for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has worked about 20 years in professional football. The Buccaneers victory on Feb. 7 – 31-9 over the Kansas City Chiefs – earned Taylor his first Super Bowl ring. It has been a whirlwind week since then, celebrating the victory, including a boat parade on Feb. 10 on the Hillsborough River near downtown Tampa.
“How many people from Albion can say they won the Super Bowl?” Taylor said this afternoon in a phone interview.
The Super Bowl title culminated six intense months of 70-80 hour weeks for Taylor. He learned that work ethic growing up on an apple farm on Zig Zag Road. His father Richard Taylor is now retired as a fruit grower. Taylor grew up with his mother Joanne and his siblings, Tracy, Mark and Chris.
Taylor said the technology has changed so much in his two decades in the business with the switch from beta tapes to digital. That has made it easier to share the video to many people. Before coaches had to take turns watching a tape. The images are easier to store and characterize with 800 fields to enter data – it could be plays on different downs and distances to go to a first down, who made tackles, catches and other key plays.
For the Super Bowl game, the Bucs coaches wanted to see plays of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and what he did when he scrambled to the right and to the left.
Taylor and the team of the four full-time staff in video put together video for the coaches and players. The teams all submit game video to the NFL and each team has access.
“It’s completely different from what you see on an NFL game,” Taylor said.
The teams record two main views for the games – the All-22 angle and the end zone view. The All-22 is from up high and shows all 22 players on the field. The end zone angle is down low, and tends to focus on the lineman and the tight ends.
Taylor got his start in video for the Buffalo Destroyers of the Arena Football League in 1999. It was after his junior year in college and he worked as an intern for the Destroyers in the summer, juggling work on the farm after college ended for the semester.
Taylor videotaped practices for the Destroyers. He was with them for four seasons.
Taylor wanted to get into the NFL. He sent his resume to the Bills and was interviewed on Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks. Taylor offered to volunteer for free to help the Bills.
“I just wanted to get my foot in the door,” he said.
Halfway through the season he was called by Henry Kunttu, the video and film director for the Bills. Taylor was tasked with filming some of the practices. There weren’t any full-time positions open with the Bills.
After the season, Taylor sent resumes all over the NFL. The Miami Dolphins called and gave Taylor a job after a recommendation from the highly regarded Kunttu, who is now retired.
Taylor was with Miami for the full season, a team with the explosive Ricky Williams at running back and Jason Taylor on the defensive line.
The following year, he took a position with the Chicago Bears in a seasonal position. Then he worked for NFL Europe in Germany with the Cologne Centurions.
In 2005, the Dolphins reached out to him for a full-time job in video. New coach, Nick Saban, wanted the team to upgrade its video. Taylor would stay with the team for 10 years as a video assistant.
He left in 2016 to work for a company in Massachusetts that provides the video software for most of the NFL teams and many other professional and college teams. That job was a chance to be near his wife Lindsay’s family. The couple has three children – Wesley, Clayton and Josie.
In the job with the software company, Taylor was assisting teams throughout the league in using the video. The Tampa Bay Bucs let him know they needed an assistant video director. They offered the position to Taylor and he accepted.
“I have always enjoyed working as part of a team,” Taylor said. “The opportunity presented itself to get back into the NFL.”
He just finished his fourth season with the Bucs. The pace at work picks up again soon with the upcoming scouting combine, free agent market and then OTAs in the spring.
It is a high-pressure business with long hours. But Taylor said he is thrilled to be a part of it.
“You get to go to football practice and games for your job,” he said. “You really can’t beat that.”
Taylor urged people looking to get into the NFL or landing their dream job to not shy away from entry-level positions that often have little or no pay with a grueling schedule.
“It’s like anything, you have got to put your nose down and work at it,” he said about his career in the NFL. “You have to always aim to put your best foot forward.”