Bear fan goes from grandstand to bookstand
If life were a football game, one could say Roy Taylor got a lucky bounce.
The lifelong Chicago Bears fan became the unlikeliest of authors when an editor's chance discovery of a Web site Taylor created about his favorite NFL team led to a book deal.
Now Taylor's comprehensive history of the Bears, aptly titled "Chicago Bears History," is available at local bookstores and on the Internet. Sales of the 128-page book have its publisher, South Carolina-based Arcadia Publishing, doing a second print run.
Still, Taylor has no plans to leave his day job as a technical account manager at Thomson Financial in Lisle. He created the Web site as part of a college class project. "When I started doing the Web site, it was just to put something out there that I knew people would enjoy," the 33-year-old Carol Stream resident said.
"There always was the hope that, eventually, some cool things will start happening," he added, "and they have."
Biggest Bears fan
There are Bears fans who rip their shirts off in the cold, wear body paint and take on alter egos on game day.
Roy Taylor isn't one of them.
But he loves going to Soldier Field - something he's been doing religiously since his family started buying season tickets in 1980.
The year before, when Taylor was 8, his dad took him to his first Bears home game - a 17-13 loss to the Doug Williams-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Even though the Bears lost, Taylor says he was hooked.
"To me, it's an extension of your civic pride," he said. "It's a part of growing up in the Chicago area - attaching yourself to the sports teams."
He estimates he has been to about 180 Bears games. That includes road trips to New Orleans, Minnesota, Green Bay, Detroit and Cincinnati to watch the team.
Taylor's evolution into a die-hard fan inspired him to read anything he could about the Bears. When he got an Internet connection in the late-1990s, he went online to feed his interest. There was one problem. Web sites devoted to Bears history were as rare as the team's playoff appearances in recent years.
Power of the Internet
Since few Web sites were committed to Bears history, Taylor tackled the challenge of designing his own.
It became a reality in 2000 when he took a Webmaster course at Illinois Institute of Technology's Rice Campus in Wheaton. He registered the domain name and made the first incarnation for a class project.
Taylor has been adding content ever since. The site now gets about 12,000 hits a month and was visited by Jeff Ruetsche, an acquisitions editor for Arcadia Publishing.
"I read the stuff he had on there, and this guy was clearly enthusiastic about the Bears," Ruetsche said. "He knew the history, was passionate and could write."
Ruetsche said he was especially impressed with an article Taylor wrote about his memories of Walter Payton. "Like everyone else who grew up in Chicago, it struck a chord with me," he said. As a result, Taylor got a book deal without going through the usual hoops and without the traditional credentials.
"I am seeing a lot of amateur historians who know their stuff and have the education," Ruetsche said. "Through the Internet, you can find these people now."
By a fan, for the fans
Once given the opportunity, Taylor says he was determined to write a book he wanted to read.
"A lot of the other books are a collection of stories from Bears players," he said. "This is the only one in print right now that will tell you the whole story."
Throughout the book, which tells the story of the Bears since 1920, Taylor addresses questions such as why the Honey Bears cheerleading squad was disbanded and what it was like to play for George S. Halas. He also interviewed several Bears legends, such as Ed Sprinkle, Doug Buffone and Ronnie Bull.
The end result gets a thumbs up from one devote Bears fan: Taylor's dad, Jerry. "I have been following the Bears for a long time," Jerry Taylor said. "And there's stuff in there that I didn't even realize."
Michelle Taylor, Roy's wife, said friends and family members have been supportive. However, she said, some have false impressions about what happens after becoming a published author. "People think that if you write a book, you make a lot of money on it," Michelle Taylor said. "But that's not the case."
In fact, Roy's been buying books for family members and friends while waiting for his first royalty check to arrive.
Taylor says his hope isn't to make money - it's to parlay the book into a dream job.
"I would love to work for the Bears," he said.
No one from Halas Hall has called yet. © 2000-2016 Roy Taylor