Bengals’ Zac Taylor remembers being cold with Kliff Kingsbury in Canada

Oct 3, 2019, 11:52 AM | Updated: 12:22 pm

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, right, talks with quarterback Andy Dalton, left, during t...

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, right, talks with quarterback Andy Dalton, left, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

TEMPE, Ariz. — About four years of age separate Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury and Bengals head man Zac Taylor, but their football coaching careers have progressed at exactly the same rate.

Both became first-year NFL head coaches before the 2019 season, and Sunday their winless teams will meet in Cincinnati.

They know each other because their coaching careers began at exactly the same time — just as their playing days ended with a shivery final few months in the Canadian Football League.

“We were both very cold,” Taylor said Thursday. “We were from Oklahoma and Texas, and we were in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in November. We threw practice squad reps with ski gloves on and hooded sweatshirts over our ears, and it was more about survival than trying to impress anybody with our arms at that point.”

The top of the 2007 Winnipeg Blue Bombers depth chart included Kevin Glenn and Ryan Dinwiddie at quarterback, two CFL veterans with more clout than the petering careers of Kingsbury and Taylor, two players not long removed from NFL stints.

Kingsbury was the third-string quarterback, ahead of Taylor, after being traded to Winnipeg from Montreal.

Taylor quarterbacked at Nebraska and had a brief stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007 before landing in the CFL.

He remembers not enjoying the Canadian temperatures or the CFL, and that especially became an issue because of the free time afforded to the backup quarterbacks.

“We shared this little love seat in the quarterback meeting room,” he said of his memories with Kingsbury. “We met in the coach’s office and there was a two-person love seat and three of us had to cram on there every day.

“The CFL work day is a four-hour work day so we were there 8 to noon, and then 12:30 we’d go next door and watch whatever movie was on, then really survive the weather and show up the next day and hope that the other players were able to lead us to a Grey Cup championship, because believe me, neither of us contributed.”

And so that’s how both players’ careers came to a close.

Kingsbury landed at Houston as an offensive quality control coach in 2008, while Taylor went to Texas A&M as a graduate assistant. In the state of Texas, learning the ropes against the same opponents in the same recruiting region, they remained in touch.

A year prior to that, while cold in Canada, Taylor said the two never talked about jumping into coaching so quickly — or their career aspirations leading to where it has, their paths crossing 12 years later as NFL head coaches on national television this weekend.

“I can promise you we did not,” Taylor said.

Presented By
Western Governors University

Presented By
Western Governors University

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