Super Bowl has Mac connection
February 1, 2019
When you watch Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, be on the lookout for a MacMurray College connection. Matt Taylor ’04 is an assistant equipment manager with the Los Angeles Rams and will be on the sidelines Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia.
Taylor started working with the then St. Louis Rams in 1998 when he was just 16 years old.
“The Rams held training camp about 35 minutes from my house at Western Illinois University and I would go watch all the time,” said Taylor. “I saw kids my age shagging balls and I wanted to do that, so I made a lot of calls and wrote a lot of letters to the university until I got my chance to be a part of the team.”
What started as just a summer job for Taylor throughout high school and college turned into a world of opportunity in the National Football League. Taylor continued to intern for the Rams for two years after graduating from MacMurray before finally being offered a full-time position in 2006, and his job and responsibilities have evolved yearly which makes for constant learning along the way.
“I know I’m sounding like an old-timer here,” joked Taylor. “But the game and the industry is constantly evolving, and if you don’t evolve with it you get left behind. It is so important to stay ahead of the curve.”
While a job in the NFL sounds exciting and glamorous, the job has come with hardships – most notably the franchise’s move from St. Louis to Los Angeles in 2016.
“The move was stressful, tense and uncomfortable for a lot of the time,” said Taylor. “It was a very difficult time for not only myself and my family, but for the entire organization. The move was hard on its own, but we had to shift everything to Los Angeles. From the extended hotel stays, to storing items in a storage facility, to holding camp at a local university because our facility wasn’t ready yet, it was a period of change.”
The relocation gave Taylor a vote of confidence, as he was selected to be a part of organizing the move.
“Hopefully this is a once in a lifetime transition, but it showed that the Rams believed in me and my skills. It helped make it a little less stressful, and open up a new and exciting chapter.”
A 20-plus year job in the NFL was born from a MacMurray degree. Taylor graduated in the spring of 2004 with a degree in sports management and a minor in business administration. He wants to make it known that people should never limit themselves because they come from a small school.
“People think because you go to a small school you can’t go on to do big things or work at high-profile organizations or become the head of a company. Even at a small school, the opportunities still come to you. You have to zero in on your goals and aspirations and make some sacrifices to reach the highest level, but it is possible,” said Taylor.
Taylor also laughed about how it was not uncommon to see professors out at Walmart or a restaurant in town.
“The education is specialized. I never felt overwhelmed. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle at big schools, but at MacMurray you always could tell the professors and coaches truly cared.”
Besides a cross-country move, Taylor continues to make a number of sacrifices, including giving up his weekends and holidays to be at work with the team.
“People only see what they see on TV. I love going to work every day, but it comes with its sacrifices and challenges.”
A four-year player on the baseball team, Taylor continues to keep in contact with athletic director, Justin Fuhler, and head baseball coach, John Grana. He recently visited campus last spring for the first time in years and was impressed with the changes and upgrades the college is making.
“The upgrades make the student experience universally better for everyone. I’m excited to see the progress that continues to be made,” said Taylor.
As Taylor enjoys this time at the Super Bowl, he reminds us that he’s still going to work as usual, just on a bigger stage.
Photos courtesy of Los Angeles Rams