There are baby pictures that exist of the two of them together, although it’s not like Kerry Taylor or Colin Parker are going to be bringing those into the Cardinals’ locker room.
Maybe, if someone asked, the team picture from the 2006 Chandler Hamilton High School football team could be produced, the Arizona state champion squad that also featured a new kid named Gerell Robinson.
Either way, there’s history there, history that’s unusual if not unique on an NFL roster.
It’s one thing for a pair of NFL teammates to have come from the same city. It’s another to have them played high school together. Many instances have guys who have played college together.
But to have three guys play on the same team in high school, college and the NFL – and to have all three stops be in the same place – is, in the words of Parker, “pretty crazy.” All three are fighting just to reach the roster, since all three are on the Cardinals’ practice squad, but it’s been an amazing reunion nonetheless.
“To be able to play with somebody through any level of football, for seven or eight years, it’s remarkable,” said Parker, a linebacker. “Money changes a lot of things. It’s a different setting. At the same time, you do get that feeling of bringing you back to high school where we are just in the locker room hanging out.”
Taylor and Robinson play on the other side of the ball, at wide receiver. The position is a natural for Taylor, whose uncle, John Taylor, was Jerry Rice’s long-time receiver wingman with the 49ers.
Taylor’s father, Keith, enjoyed a long NFL career as a defensive back, as did Parker’s father, Anthony. The two grew up together and attended Hamilton – a football powerhouse – together. Robinson didn’t arrive at Hamilton until he moved there from Texas as a junior, joining Taylor and Parker as the two went through their senior year of high school.
The Huskies won the state championship that year. The next year, Parker and Taylor stayed home to play at Arizona State while Robinson finished his time at Hamilton with a state semifinal loss. Then he too went to ASU.
“I think we all had a good idea we’d all be able to play Division I football,” Parker said. “I don’t think we thought we’d all end up in the same place in college. G-Rob thought he was going to go to Notre Dame for a long time, Kerry was committed and de-committed and then committed again. It’s kind of weird we all ended up here and really that we have been together through all the circumstances.”
Parker redshirted, putting him in Robinson’s class and keeping them from the NFL until 2012. Taylor, meanwhile, went undrafted in 2011 and bounced around. He signed with the Packers out of school and played in the preseason with them before being cut at the end of camp. After that, he had stints with the Patriots, 49ers and Vikings.
Parker was the first to land with the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie in April, being cut and then re-signed to the practice squad at the end of the preseason. Robinson came next, signing on the practice squad after being cut by the Broncos following the preseason.
Ironically, Taylor got on the team only because Robinson was forced to serve a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Taylor filled his spot, but when Robinson came off suspension, the team chose to keep Taylor and put Isaiah Williams on injured reserve.
“At first we talked about it a lot,” Taylor said. “As guys from the team found out we were all from the same high school, it blew up for a little bit, it was like, ‘Dang, all you guys are from here.’ It is cool. Nothing like seeing the same faces you saw growing up.”
Robinson said Parker was one of the first people he saw when he arrived, making the transition to a new team a little easier. The trio has also grown a little closer than before.
“We all had our different cliques,” Robinson said. “Now, it’s just the three of us.”
There is no guarantee the trio will stay together. Life on the practice squad and the end of NFL rosters is anything but assured. Yet they have enjoyed the time they have had, hoping they can stick with the Cardinals. They appreciate the special situation they are in.
“It’s not like we grew up in Tucson,” Taylor said. “We grew up five, 10 minutes from here.
“It’s a surreal feeling.”