Bear fan goes from grandstand to bookstand
If life were a football game, one could say Roy Taylor got a
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
bearshistory.com 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
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
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
bearshistory.com domain name and made the first incarnation for a class
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
"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
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
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.