After failed drug tests, steroid use, and personal issues, the New York Giants legend was an unlikely candidate to make the Hall of Fame. But when he was inducted in 2015, he proved to be a worthy candidate. There is no better example of the Hall’s importance than the example of Lawrence Taylor.
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Lawrence Taylor was arguably the most dangerous player of his generation. On and off the field, the Hall of Fame linebacker for the New York Giants was a wild man. The man known as LT was the most disruptive defensive player on the team.
Taylor was a ruthless, tenacious, and intense individual. Off the field, he carried that with him as well. Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, who also coached Taylor with the Giants, famously described No. 56 as “aggressive” in the film room.
Lawrence Taylor wasted no time in the NFL building a name for himself.
On September 8, 1991, in The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Lawrence Taylor #56 of the New York Giants took part in an NFL football game versus the Los Angeles Rams. Taylor was a member of the Giants from 1981 until 1993. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images/Focus on Sport)
Taylor was selected second overall in the 1981 NFL Draft by the Giants. The Giants pounced on North Carolina linebacker George Rogers after the New Orleans Saints picked him with the top overall choice. It turned out to be a brilliant move.
Taylor didn’t take long to get used to life in the NFL. In his debut season, he started all 16 games and had 9.5 sacks and an interception. He made history by being the first rookie to earn Defensive Player of the Year. Taylor proved that his DPOY honor in Year 1 was no fluke, as he continued to be the game’s best defense in the nine-game, strike-shortened season.
He had his best season in 1986, when he was crowned MVP of the league and won his third DPOY title. He started all 16 games and racked up 20.5 sacks, which was the most in the league.
Taylor threw himself into the game with abandon. He was obsessed with pursuing the quarterback and would go to any length to do so. Bringing down the quarterback gave him enormous joy, almost disturbing pleasure.
“There’s a sack, and then there’s a sack!” says the narrator. In 1987, LT told Sports Illustrated, ” “You approach the quarterback from behind. He isn’t aware of your presence. You slammed your helmet into his backside. You should wrap your arms around him. When he is thrown to the ground, the coach rushes out and says, “Are you all right?” ‘”
According to Bill Belichick, Lawrence Taylor was just as tough in the editing room.
“Right now, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor. I’m not going to place anyone in Lawrence Taylor’s class. So everyone can go below that.” – Bill Belichick pic.twitter.com/xI9SsxSjqf
— July 6, 2021, Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports)
Taylor was a bully on the football field. He was one of the top defensive disruptors in the game because of his agility and ferocity. Taylor made it clear during his playing days that he wasn’t that type of person off the field.
Taylor admitted, “I am not invincible.” “People just see the football side of me when they see me. I’m not filled with rage or malice. I have emotions. I’m furious. I’m content. I’m a bundle of emotions.”
Back in 1987, Belichick, who coached the Giants linebackers and special teams from 1980 to 1984 before becoming the team’s defensive coordinator from 1985 to 1990, had a different opinion on Taylor’s off-field behavior.
“During defensive sessions, while we’re reviewing footage, Lawrence will suddenly say, ‘Ah, Bill.’ “Replay that play again,” Belichick remarked. “And I’ll see he’s staring at a wide receiver who was knocked off the screen by a defensive back 20 yards away from the ball. I’ve seen him get a kick out of seeing one of our own guys get dusted.”
Taylor, despite his success and tenacity, might have done a lot better.
Lawrence Taylor is the best defensive football player who has ever lived. The next two minutes are all the proof you’ll need to believe it. pic.twitter.com/Or4BY9XoxD
July 31, 2021 — Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports)
Nobody can deny Taylor’s accomplishments in the NFL. Taylor was a standout who was a 10-time Pro Bowler (8-time All-Pro), a two-time Super Bowl champion, and a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Taylor may have been better if he had put in more effort, according to Johnny Parker, the Giants’ strength coach during his playing days.
Taylor rarely worked out during the off-season. Taylor was penalized after lifting weights “just three or four times,” according to Parker.
In 1987, Parker stated, “Lawrence has a role to perform.” “He wants people to believe it’s all natural and God-given,” says the author. We used to run 330-yard sprints before the season. He was panting for air. ‘I’ve always wanted to train,’ he stated afterward. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.’
“He would benefit more than anybody else on the Giants from lifting weights. He can lift weights for an hour and get stronger and faster than others can in six days. Consider how much of an impact that would have on the league. Lawrence isn’t a slacker by any means. He simply does not have a long attention span. Look, I get what he’s saying. Why should he murder himself if he already has power over others? I battle him, but I’m not going to win.”
It’s incredible to consider how terrific Taylor was and how much better he could have been.
Lawrence Taylor Isn’t Worth a Lot More Than a $124,000 Super Bowl Check
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