Despite being arrested and charged with third-degree rape, this recent allegation should not diminish LT’s luminous professional football career.
Driving home from work, I had my radio tuned to a local sports station WWL broadcasting in New Orleans. Hosts Deke Bellavia and former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert were talking about LT’s latest run in with the law. Apparently, both of them think LT’s use of cocaine made him a better player. What I heard them say is: cocaine is a performance enhancing drug. In other words, they were questioning whether his use of cocaine gave him a competitive advantage on the field. This is hogwash. Cocaine does not make someone a better football player. Contrary to the belief of these half-wits, Lawrence Taylor was the greatest defensive player of all time. Former Green Bay Packers offensive coach Bob Schnelker told his players before a game in 1981, “Guys let me tell you. I’ve seen Butkus. I’ve seen Nitschke. I’ve seen’em all. He’s better than all of ’em.”
Taylor revolutionized the way the game is played. He would dominate an opposing tackle, push aside a tight end, and run over a running back. Additionally, Taylor’s dominance caused former Eagles tackle Jerry Sisemore to retire. “Towards the middle of the week something would come over you and you’d just start sweating.” He goes on, “My last year in the league, opening day, he immediately got past me….He just looked at me and laughed. Right there I thought I had to get out of this game.” 1984 was Sisemore’s last season in the NFL. Even when he was double teamed, Taylor would be able to shed blocks. Fed up with Taylor’s ability to rush the passer, former Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs designed a formation in order to prevent LT from making an impact. “Joe Gibbs in a game in Giants Stadium basically decided Taylor wasn’t going to make any plays,” said Bill Parcells. “He put two tight ends on Taylor’s side-along with the left tackle-and two wide receivers in the slot away from Taylor.” Even though this strategy contained Taylor, it allowed other guys on the Giants defense to make plays. Nevertheless, the Giants won the game.
In the book, The Education of a Coach, Bill Belichick sums up Taylor’s career. According to Belichick, there were three separate Taylor careers.
1. 1981-When he was brilliant.
2. 1982-1987- When he was brilliant but erratic.
3. After 1987- When he was completely in control of his almost unparalleled natural abilities.
Lawrence Taylor had unparalleled natural abilities on the football field. On the other hand, his personal life has been the complete antithesis. The addiction to drugs and alcohol and his voracious appetite for women has caused his personal life to plunge into chaos. Life is about choices. For Taylor, his lower choices continue to haunt him. Former Giants GM George Young said, “We are not in the business of well-adjusted human beings.” Unfortunately, this is so true. However, like all of us, Taylor is flawed. And his off the field actions should not besmirch his Hall of Fame career.