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A true Pittsburgh Steelers player, Ike Taylor's career warrants respect and appreciation

Throughout his career, Ike Taylor was a quality starter and key contributor during Pittsburgh's run to three Super Bowls in six seasons. He also played the game with a toughness that resembled great Steelers of old.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Every great team has a cast of quality, solid players that the team can count on week after week, year after year.

The Steelers had several of those type of players during thier most recent Super Bowl runs, and Ike Taylor was one of them.

On Tuesday, Taylor followed former teammates Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu into retirement, as a new era of football in Pittsburgh truly has begun. Hopefully, this new era of Steelers teams finds their Ike Taylor, a consumate professional that was reliable, durable and, perhaps above all, played the game like a Steeler.

Unlike Polamalu, Taylor was never considered the best at his position. He won't be in any Hall-of-Fame conversations, but like J.T. Thomas in the 1970's and Darren Perry in the 1990's, he was a stalwart in the defensive backfield who did his job and allowed other teammates to flourish. Drafted in 2003 to help improve a sagging pass defense, Taylor more than plugged a leak in the Steelers' defense; he became a quality starter and became a major cog in Pittsburgh's most recent Super Bowl defenses. Good or bad, Steelers fans could count on Taylor giving them his best each and every Sunday.

Taylor's value was never more evident than in Pittsburgh's playoff run to Super Bowl XL. In four consecutive games, Taylor shut down the opposition's No.1 receiver which included All-Pro wideouts Chad Johnson and Marvin Harrison along with Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion Rod Smith.

Taylor didn't allow a touchdown reception as he held Johnson to four catches for 59 yards, Harrison to three receptions for 52 yards and Smith to four grabs for just 61 yards. In Super Bowl XL, Taylor held Seahawks' No.1 receiver Darrell Jackson to zero catches after first quarter while recording a key interception late to help the Steelers prevail over Seattle, 21-10. Taylor eagerly tried to shut down the best receivers of his era each and every week, taking pride in throwing them off their games. While he didn't always previal, Taylor's efforts and attitude was an important facet on the Steelers championship defenses.

From 2007-11, Taylor didn't miss a game and only one start as the Steelers won a Super Bowl and played in another during that same time span. Teamed with fellow corner Deshea Townsend and safeties Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu, Taylor was a part of perhaps the best secondary in the NFL in the late 2000's, which meshed with the rest of the defense to become one of the best units in league history in 2008.

Like teammate Joey Porter did for the linebackers, Taylor brought a swagger to the defensive backfield. He was a vocal player that didn't fear any opponent or team. He also played through several injuries throughout his career without making excuses if those injuries impacted his play on the field. Taylor personified what a true Steeler is, a tough-minded player who did his job and did whatever it took to help the team win.

Like Polamalu, Taylor also suffered through an injury-riddled 2014 campaign, playing in just five games. After openly considering re-joining Dick LaBeau in Tennessee, Taylor decided to retire a Steeler, ensuring that his NFL legacy will always be associated with the Black and Gold.

Taylor retires after having played 12 quality seasons while being a part of the NFL's No.1 defense six times. He is a two-time Super Bowl champion and forever a member of the Steelers' fraternity of players that helped the franchise win six Lombardi Trophies. It's a legacy Taylor should be proud of, and one that won't soon be forgotten.