Ivan “Ike” Taylor was born in the city of Gretna located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, across the river from uptown New Orleans. He lived with his mother, Cora in Raleigh, North Carolina for a period of time as a child but later returned to Louisiana as a seventh-grader to live with his uncle and aunt, Herman and Judy Francois. He attended Marion Abramson Senior High School where he played football as a running back, defensive end, corner back, and place-kicker. While living with his uncle, he began to acquire unorthodox training habits as an athlete.
Taylor attended college at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette where he studied in psychology. In his first two years, he became academically ineligible and was unable to play football. After hard work, help, and commitment he brought his grades up and joined the football team as a walk on in 2001. This achievement earned him a scholarship. In his first season, he played tailback, special teams and returned kicks.
Prior to his senior season, Taylor asked to be moved to cornerback. He started the season at the right cornerback spot and recorded 46 tackles, eight passes defensed and two forced fumbles. In four games, he didn’t allow an opponent to catch a ball. Among his college teammates was Charles Tillman who was drafted by the Chicago Bears.
Despite his inexperience and lack of consistent play in college, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Taylor in the fourth round (125th overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft. The selection was made based primarily on Taylor’s rare combination of size and speed — leading up to the draft, he was timed as fast as 4.18 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
In his first two years in the league, Taylor was used primarily on special teams, though he saw spot duty at defensive back. In his third season (2005) Taylor moved into the starting lineup at left cornerback. He started 15 regular season games and all four of the team’s playoff games, including the Super Bowl. During the 2005 NFL playoffs he had a key interception in the second quarter of the 2005 AFC Championship. The turnover led to a touchdown which opened a 24–3 lead en route to a 34–17 win over the Denver Broncos. In the Super Bowl, Taylor recorded a team high seven tackles and also had two passes defended and a crucial interception at the Steelers five-yard line which helped the Steelers to secure a 21–10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Taylor was rewarded for his performance prior to the 2006 season with a contract extension valued at $22.5 million over four years (with $6.4 million guaranteed). The contract made Taylor the highest paid cornerback in franchise history and would tie him to the Steelers through 2010.
Taylor’s play regressed in 2006 and he was stripped of his starting role after game 10; he was not re-inserted into the starting lineup until the final game of the season, and then only due to an injury to Deshea Townsend. He re-committed himself in the off-season and regained his spot at left cornerback for 2007 under the new regime of head coach Mike Tomlin, who replaced Bill Cowher. In a first round loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2007 playoffs, Taylor recorded his third consecutive post-season game with an interception, which set a team record.
Taylor won the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Week award for his performance against the Seahawks in the fifth week of 2008. In the game, he had six solo tackles, three passes defended and a goal-line interception to halt a Seahawks drive at the end of the first half. He started all 16 regular season games that season, along with three more playoff games including a win in Super Bowl XLIII to earn his second Super Bowl ring.
In the final week of the 2009 season, Taylor made a helmet-to-helmet tackle on Miami Dolphins quarterback Pat White which rendered White temporarily unable to move. White had to be carted off the field, but he didn’t appear to sustain any long-term damage from the hit.
Taylor makes his off-season home in his native New Orleans. He trains with Tom Shaw in his Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness (SPARQ) Training Program, primarily at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
Each summer Ike runs the FaceMeIke Football Camp in New Orleans for local youth.
On Sunday Night Football games during the 2009 season, he introduced himself as “Ike Taylor, Swaggin’.” During the 2010 season, he introduced himself as “Ike T, Swagger’ U.”