These two words are the simplest way to describe Phil Taylor, a former walk-on football player at TCU. As I’m sure many have heard, Phil Taylor passed away earlier this week after a long battle with stage 4 cancer.
We celebrate the life of Phil Taylor, TCU wide receiver from 2012 to 2014. He was only 25. Phil’s courage and strength during his battle with cancer exemplified what it means to be a Horned Frog pic.twitter.com/Xd3SChKgOO— TCU Football (@TCUFootball) September 26, 2018
Two words cannot define what Phil Taylor meant to the Horned Frogs community and this article in no way can grasp the impact he had on so many people around TCU, both during his time as a student and his time as an alum. However, it is important to share his story. Phil was one of the most passionate Horned Frogs that I had the pleasure of knowing and was a fighter in so many different ways.
I first met Phil in the fall of 2013, when I was a freshman at TCU and still learning my way around. My Frog Camp facilitator was showing me around during my first weekend on campus and he lived with Phil near the campus. Phil was one of the very first people I met upon arriving in Fort Worth and when I first met him, I never would have guessed he was a football player. This wasn’t because he didn’t look like a player, but because he didn’t really bring it up. In getting to know him over the years, I learned he was extremely passionate about being a TCU Football player, but he always carried himself with such humility that you never would have guessed it.
Phil Taylor carried that same humility with him in his battle with cancer. We weren’t close friends, but rather friends who always said hi to each other when our paths crossed, which was frequent due to our love for sports and the relationships we had at TCU. Much like I had no idea he was a football player, I also would have never guessed he had such an aggressive form of cancer despite meeting with him a few times between his diagnosis and when I learned the news. That was just who he was - he didn’t want to share the news because he didn’t want others to feel sorry for him.
Fighting for Phil didn’t mean just physically fighting the cancer - it meant living his life the way he always had. It meant continuing to follow his passions and to serve others with a kind heart and a smile on his face. Many times he could be seen at Horned Frog athletic events covering it for various sports media outlets. Phil also served as a football coach at Prince of Peace Christian School. Cancer didn’t hold Phil back and he never let it defeat him. Stuart Scott in his famous speech when accepting the Jimmy V Award said “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live” and there is no doubt in my mind that Phil Taylor BEAT cancer.
Not only did Phil have an effect on my life for the better, but he has also made an impact on other former and current Frogs O’ War writers, as well as countless teammates and others in the Frog family. Below is just a small sample of the impact Phil had on others.
“I had the great pleasure of calling Phil Taylor a friend during our four years in the TCU Sports Broadcasting program. Phil had the uncanny ability to always have a smile on his face. Whether it was a 6:00 a.m. call time to prep for a morning soccer broadcast, or a 7:00 p.m. baseball game that ran late into the night, it was impossible to not instantly feel better when in Phil’s presence. One of his many admirable qualities was his unwavering faith – in God, his friends, and his beloved Horned Frogs. The outpouring of love and support across social media is further proof just how many people in Phil’s life felt this way. He was truly a great friend and I, along with so many others, will miss him so very much.” - Andrew Felts
So incredibly sad to hear of Phil’s passing. One of the nicest, most genuine people I had the pleasure of calling my friend during our time in the TCU Sports Broadcasting program. Rest easy, @Philly_Phil35. https://t.co/QwKIqGhc8b— Andrew Felts (@andrewfelts) September 25, 2018
It's hard to find the right words right now.— Dean Straka (@dwstraka49) September 25, 2018
Phil Taylor was an absolute inspiration to everyone he crossed paths with. He was a courageous man of God, a dear friend to many, a dude who could see the positive in EVERY situation. I feel beyond blessed to have known him. https://t.co/dXJXKLw0wK
Phil had an incredible impact on the entire TCU Athletics family.
A photo I'll always treasure: Being with Phil Taylor at his TCU graduation. pic.twitter.com/FSnuaAxxHl— Mark Cohen (@TCUCohen) September 26, 2018
Phil Taylor was an awesome young man! Phil fought a good fight! Cancer didn’t win! Phil is alive with Christ! pic.twitter.com/DbZwjgXioH— Chauncey Franks (@chaunceyfranks) September 26, 2018
Of course some of those who will miss Phil the most are those who shared the locker room with him.
RIP Phil, will never forget competing against you on the practice field everyday with a smile on your face. You will be missed https://t.co/7hPCvpD5dy— Kevin White Jr. (@2KWHITE5) September 27, 2018
May we all embody the passion, loving and kind hearted spirit Phil displayed to all he crossed...RIP buddy https://t.co/Aw3hKWdCCa— Deanté Gray (@DeanteGray_) September 25, 2018
R.I.P brother! Always had smile on his face , was a great teammate https://t.co/9E354HkL4G— issaRant (@RTexada) September 25, 2018
Came home today to find out my boy, my teammate, my family Phill Taylor passed away today. You were a true inspiration and a great teammate brotha, I truly thank you for the lessons and time God blessed us with. you touched my life as well as hundreds more. REST EAST Philly pic.twitter.com/EgJTzD3Mfs— CAM ECHOLS-LUPER (@txsmde11) September 26, 2018
My thoughts and prayers are with @Philly_Phil35 and his family. He was a light in the locker room and a phenomenal human being. I was extremely lucky to have gotten the opportunity to play with such an incredible guy— Charlie Reid (@charliereid82) September 25, 2018
One group in particular, fellow walk-ons, were impacted greatly by his presence and how he helped them as they joined the team.
@Philly_Phil35 was the 1st person to come up to me, introduce himself, and selflessly show a wide-eyed freshman the ropes. His smile and approach to the game was contagious. One of the best teammates I’ve ever known. Your TCU legacy will live on. Rest easy brother. #100blockmade— Michael Downing (@CoachDowningTCU) September 26, 2018
Talk about what it meant to be a horned frog...first person to take me under his wing when I first joined the team and made me feel like a part of the family...rest in peace Phil I’m glad you no longer have to suffer https://t.co/PpkffZxcL5— Nathan Hernandez (@NateHernandez88) September 25, 2018
His story and impact was felt by more than just the TCU Football community, but by many Frogs.
I didn’t know Phil personally but I do know of the fight he was dealing with. Sad to see a fellow Frog pass but your memory and love that you showed everyone will live on. Once a Frog always a Frog! Rest easy big guy!— Brandon Finnegan (@bfinny29) September 25, 2018
As we keep his family in our thoughts and prayers, let us also keep his Prince of Peace Football family in our thoughts and prayers as well. They have lost a coach who surely served as a positive role model for those who played for him.
One of the quotes every Horned Frog knows is the famous Dutch Meyer line, “Fight ‘em until hell freezes over. Then fight ‘em on the ice!” For many, being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer would be the equivalent of hell freezing over, and I know personally, I’m not sure I could fight the same way Phil did. He never gave up, he never quit, he kept fighting everyday and in every way.
The thoughts and experiences shared with Phil in this article is not enough to truly show the depth and scope of the impact he had on the TCU community, but for those who did not know Phil personally, I hope this shows what our Frog family lost this past week. While many others had the privilege to know him and share experiences with him, I think Phil’s own words do the most justice in getting to know who he truly was.
1 year ago today I was diagnosed with cancer. I thought about posting some inspirational crap, but honestly I got nothing— Phil Taylor (@Philly_Phil35) December 7, 2017
I'm still here. I'm still smiling. Cant get better than that
Be sure to take some time to hug somebody today. Everyone's got their own battle.
That’s who Phil Taylor was.
Fighter. Frog. Forever.