“Scary” is the one word that epitomizes Lawrence Taylor. He regularly brought fear and pain to the offenses that he played against throughout the 12 years that he played in the NY Giants’ defense. Taylor was a freak of nature. He was a large, ferocious linebacker that could outrun most skill positions, but we’ll get to that. He changed pass rushing schemes and offensive formations, and he even changed the way that the quarterback’s blindside was protected. Lawrence Taylor was one of the most revolutionizing players the National Football League has seen.
L.T. played in 10 pro bowls, 9 of which he was first team All-Pro. He was a two-time Super Bowl Champion. In 1986, his first year, Taylor claimed the Rookie of the Year and the Defensive player of the Year, a feat that rarely occurs. In fact, through the course of his career, he won Defensive player of the Year a record three times. A real testament to his greatness is that he is one of only two defensive players to win the National Football League Most Valuable Player award, and the only one to win it unanimously. By the awards, Lawrence Taylor is possibly the best defensive player to reach the NFL. His dominance in the 1980′s and 90′s to date has not been duplicated.
And, the myth surrounding L.T. is feasibly more impressive than the numbers suggest. Lawrence Taylor was 6’4″, weighed in at 250 pounds during his NFL days, and was rumored to have run a 4.4 forty-yard dash. For those of you new to sports talk, that means that a very angry, large muscled man potentially ran 40 yards in 4.4 seconds. And there is some truth to this myth because he was clocked on the forty at 4.5 seconds numerous times. Lawrence Taylor was a huge, athletic phenomena and he revolutionized the way that the game is played today. He flew around the field with the same foot speed as wide receivers and running backs – which are the fastest offensive positions - plus he outweighed most of them by fifty pounds. Taylor delivered hits that intimidated his opponents because he was as fast as anyone on the field and bigger than most players too. He assaulted quarterbacks, ran down tail backs, and blew up plays constantly. Lawrence Taylor personally made the position of left tackle the highest paid position in the NFL with his exploits on the field. L.T. sacked quarterbacks so consistently, that coaches and general mangers were forced to find athletes that could subdue him for the minuscule 3-5 seconds that it took to successfully complete passes.
A new breed of athlete had to be found to slow Taylor. Prior to Lawrence Taylor, that position averaged around 6 feet and weighed about 280 lbs. Those figures with the help of Taylor’s devastating blindside rush, inflated to the current average of 6’6″ and 300+ pounds. And, he still managed to regularly hit quarterbacks through blinding quickness and sheer power. The next step was to double-team him putting more than one person between Taylor and the ball. However, that often disrupted the timing of plays and left fewer options for quarterbacks, thus rendering the offense impotent anyway. He changed offensive formations with his relentless attacks. The San Francisco 49′ers admitted that part of the reason that they drafted Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young was because he could see the rush coming from the left side of the line (he was left-handed). In this case, Taylor even affected personnel decisions for opponents.
Lawrence Taylor holds the unofficial title of “Best Defensive Player” in the history of the National Football League, and is arguably the best football player ever. Through his freakish athleticism, and pure will, Taylor assaulted not only quarterbacks, but also the way football was played. In a high collision sport, he caused the most chaos and inadvertently built the league into what it is now. Lawrence Taylor’s career in this sport was more dominant than anyone the game has seen and he was, put plainly “Scary.”