American Football Wiki
No. 56
Personal information
Date of birth: February 4, 1959 (age 51) Williamsburg, Virginia
High School: Lafayette High School
Career information
College: North Carolina
NFL Draft: 1981 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Debuted in 1981 for the New York Giants
Last played in 1993 for the New York Giants
Career history
  • New York Giants (1981–1993)
Career highlights and awards
  • 10× Pro Bowl selection (1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990)
  • 9× First-Team All-Pro selection (1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989)
  • 1× Second-Team All-Pro selection (1990)
  • NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
  • NFL 1980s All-Decade Team
  • 2× Super Bowl champion (XXI, XXV)
  • AP NFL MVP (1986)
  • PFWA NFL MVP (1986)
  • 3× AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1981, 1982, 1986)
  • NEA NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1986)
  • 2× UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year (1983, 1986)
  • AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (1981)
  • Bert Bell Award (1986)
  • New York Giants #56 retired
  • Member of New York Giants Ring of Honor
Career NFL statistics as of 1993
Stats at
Pro Football Hall of Fame

Lawrence Julius Taylor (born February 4, 1959), nicknamed "L.T.", is a Hall of Fame former American football player. Taylor played his entire professional career as a linebacker for the New York Giants in the National Football League (NFL). He is considered to be one of the greatest players in the history of football, and has been called the greatest defensive player of all time by members of the media, former players, and coaches.

After an All-American career at the University of North Carolina (UNC) (1978–1981), Taylor was drafted by the Giants as the second overall selection in the 1981 NFL Draft. Although controversy surrounded the selection due to Taylor's contract demands, the two sides quickly resolved the issue. Taylor won several defensive awards after his rookie season. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Taylor was a disruptive force at outside linebacker, and is widely considered to have changed the pass rushing schemes, offensive line play, and offensive formations used in the NFL. Taylor produced double-digit sacks each season from 1984 through 1990, including a career high of 20.5 in 1986. He also won a record three Defensive Player of the Year awards and was named the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP) for his performance during the 1986 season. He was named First-team All-Pro in each of his first nine seasons and was a key member of the Giants' defense, nicknamed "The Big Blue Wrecking Crew", that led New York to victories in Super Bowl XXI and XXV. During the 1980s Taylor, DE Leonard Marshall, and fellow linebackers Carl Banks, Gary Reasons, and Hall of Famer Harry Carson gave the Giants linebacking corps and overall defense a reputation as one of the best in the NFL.

Taylor had a controversial lifestyle, during and after his playing career. He admitted to using addictive drugs such as cocaine as early as his second year in the NFL, and was suspended several times by the league for failing drug tests. His drug abuse escalated after his retirement, and he was jailed three times for attempted drug possession. From 1998 to 2009, Taylor lived a sober, drug-free life. He worked as a color commentator on sporting events for several years after his retirement and, as of 2009, was pursuing a career as an actor. His personal life came up again in a negative fashion in 2009 when he was charged in Florida with leaving the scene of an accident and in 2010 when he was charged with the statutory rape of a 16-year old prostitute.

Early life

Lawrence Taylor was the middle of three sons born to Clarence and Iris Taylor in Williamsburg, Virginia. His father worked as a dispatcher at the Newport News shipyards, while his mother was a schoolteacher.[1] Referred to as Lonnie by his family,[2] Taylor was a mischievous youth. His mother recalls, "[h]e was a challenging child. Where the other two boys would ask for permission to do stuff, Lonnie...would just do it, and when you found out about it, he would give you a big story."[2] Taylor concentrated on baseball as a youth, in which he played the position of catcher,[3] and only began playing football at the relatively advanced age of fifteen.[1] He did not play organized high school football until the following year (eleventh grade),[4] and was not heavily recruited coming out of high school.[5]

After graduating from Lafayette High School in 1977,[6] Taylor attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was a team captain,[7] and wore #98. Originally recruited as a defensive lineman, Taylor switched to linebacker before the 1979 season.[8] He had 16 sacks in his final year there (1980),[9] and set numerous defensive records. His awards included All-America and Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year honors in 1980.[1] While there the coaching staff marveled at his intense, reckless style of play. "As a freshman playing on special teams, he'd jump a good six or seven feet in the air to block a punt, then land on the back of his neck," said North Carolina assistant coach Bobby Cale. "He was reckless, just reckless."[9] UNC later retired Taylor's jersey and after his career at UNC ended it became common for subsequent players to frequently be measured against Taylor.

NFL career

1981 NFL Draft and training camp

In the 1981 NFL Draft, Taylor was drafted by the NFL's New York Giants as the # 2 pick overall. In a poll of NFL General Managers (GMs) taken before the draft 26 out of the 28 GMs stated that if they had the first selection they would select Taylor.[10] One of two GMs who stated that they would not take Taylor was the GM of the New Orleans Saints, who had the first pick in the draft.[10] Giants General Manager George Young was one of the many who saw Taylor's potential and even predicted before the draft that he would be better than NFL legends such as Dick Butkus: "Taylor is the best college linebacker I've ever seen. Sure, I saw Dick Butkus play. There's no doubt in my mind about Taylor. He's bigger and stronger than Butkus was. On the blitz, he's devastating."[10] Shortly before the draft controversy arose, however, Taylor and his agent Mike Trope expressed a desire to sign a contract for a then unheard of rookie salary of $250,000 U.S. dollars per season.[11] Several players on the Giants even threatened to walk out if Taylor was paid that salary, as they refused to play for less than an unproven rookie.[11] On draft day the Saints selected George Rogers as their first overall pick, which left the Giants with the decision of whether to select Taylor. Despite the controversy, and to the raucous approval of the crowd in attendance at the draft (which was held in New York City), the Giants selected Taylor.[12] Taylor took to New York immediately, and expressed his excitement about the opportunity to play in the city.[13] Shortly after the draft several Giants players backed down from their stance, as Taylor stated that he had "talked to some players and coaches" and "got things straightened out."[12] Despite the contract controversy, one of the factors that the Giants stated they considered in selecting Taylor was his solid reputation coming out of college. "He was the cleanest player in the draft. By that I mean there was no rap on him,"[14] head coach Ray Perkins said after he was drafted. "Great potential as a linebacker, a fine young man, free of injuries."[14] Taylor has stated that he chose to wear number 56 because he was inspired by Thomas Henderson of the Dallas Cowboys.[15]

Taylor's talent was evident from the start of training camp.[9][16] Reports flowed out of the Giants training compound of the exploits of the new phenom before he had even stepped onto the field for an actual game.[9][16] Taylor's teammates took to calling him Superman and jokingly suggested that his locker should be replaced with a phone booth.[9] Phil Simms, the team's quarterback, stated the week before the Giants pre-season opener, "[o]n the pass rush, he's an animal. He's either going to run around you or over you. With his quickness, he's full speed after two steps."[13] Simms later commented that he was looking forward to the season starting because, "[o]nce the season starts at least I won't have to play against him any more."[14] Taylor made his NFL exhibition debut on August 8, 1981, recording 2 sacks in the Giants' 23–7 win over the Chicago Bears.[17] Years after facing Taylor in an exhibition game, Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Terry Bradshaw recalled, "[h]e dang-near killed me, I just kept saying, 'Who is this guy?' He kept coming from my blind side and just ripped my ribs to pieces."[18] Before the season had even started word began to spread around the league about Taylor and his intense, hard-hitting style of play.[14][19]

Early career: 1981–1985

Taylor's NFL regular season debut occurred on September 6, 1981 in a 24–10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The game was relatively non-noteworthy for Taylor except for his picking up a penalty for a late hit on Eagles running back Perry Harrington.[14] Taylor went on to finish his rookie season with 9.5 sacks,[20] and is often considered to have had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history.[21][22] Taylor was named 1981's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press, becoming to date the only rookie to ever win the Defensive Player of the Year award.[23] Taylor's impact contributed to the Giants defense going from allowing 425 points in 1980 to 257 in 1981.[21] The Giants finished the season 9–7, up 5 games from the previous season's 4–12 record, and advanced to the NFL divisional playoffs, where they lost 38–24 to the eventual Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers.[24] The 49ers' win was due in part to a special tactic 49ers coach Bill Walsh used to slow Taylor. Walsh assigned guard John Ayers, the team's best blocker, to block Taylor and, although Taylor still recorded a sack and three tackles, he was not as effective as normal.[25]

The 1982 season was shortened by a players strike. Despite its short length, the season included one of the more memorable plays of Taylor's career. In the nationally televised Thanksgiving Day game against the Detroit Lions the teams were tied 6–6 early in the fourth quarter, when the Lions drove deep into New York territory. Lions quarterback Gary Danielson dropped back to pass and threw the ball out to his left toward the sidelines.[26] Taylor ran in front of the intended receiver, intercepted the pass, and returned it for a touchdown. Taylor again won the Associated Press's Defensive Player of the Year Award.[27] The Giants finished a disappointing 4-5.

Shortly after the 1982 season, Perkins signed as head coach at the University of Alabama and the Giants hired Bill Parcells from within to replace him. Parcells had been the team's defensive coordinator, and in the coming years this change would prove crucial to the Giants and Taylor. Leading up to the 1983 season, Taylor engaged in a training camp holdout that lasted three weeks and ended when Taylor came back to the team under his old contract with three games remaining in the preseason.[28]

Although Taylor recorded nine sacks and made the All-Pro team for the third consecutive season in 1983,[20] the Giants struggled. The team finished 3–12–1,[29] and Parcells received heavy criticism during the season from both the fans and the media. After the season, Taylor was involved in a fight for his services between the Giants and the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League.[30] Taylor had been given a $1 million interest-free, 25-year loan by Generals owner Donald Trump on December 14, 1983, with the provision that he would begin playing in the USFL in 1988.[30] Taylor quickly regretted the decision and less than a month later attempted to get out of the agreement. The Giants, who were eager to keep Taylor, took part in attempting to free Taylor from it. The results of this tussle included many considerations but the ultimate result was threefold: 1) Taylor had to return the $1 million to Trump, 2) the Giants were required to pay Trump $750,000 over the next five seasons in order for Trump to release Taylor's rights, and 3) the Giants gave Taylor a new six-year, $6.2-million-dollar contract.[30][31]

The Giants' record rebounded to 9–7 in 1984,[32] and Taylor had another All-Pro season.[20] Taylor got off to an exceptional start to the season, getting four sacks in a September game. In the playoffs the Giants defeated the Los Angeles Rams 16–13, but ultimately lost 21–10 to the eventual champion 49ers.[33]

In contrast to the previous season the Giants headed into the 1985 season with a sense of optimism after their successful 1984 campaign and a 5–0 pre-season record in 1985.[34] The Giants finished the season with a 10–6 record, and Taylor spearheaded a defense that led the NFL in sacks with 68.[35] Taylor himself had 13 sacks. One of the more memorable plays of Taylor's career occurred during this season. On a Monday Night Football game against the Redskins, Taylor's sack of Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann inadvertently resulted in a compound fracture of Theismann's right leg. Immediately after the sack, a distraught Taylor frantically screamed for paramedics to attend to Theismann. Although this sack by Taylor ended Theismann's career, Theismann has never blamed Taylor for the injury. Taylor claims he has never seen the video clip of the play and says he never wants to. The two are currently great friends, pairing up during many celebrity golf tournaments. During the first round of the playoffs, the Giants defeated the defending champion 49ers 17–3.[36] However, the Giants lost to the eventual champion Chicago Bears in the second round 21–0.[36]

[ Mid-career and championships: 1986–1990

In 1986 Taylor had one of the most successful seasons by a defensive player in the history of the NFL. He recorded a league-leading 20.5 sacks and (at the time) became one of just two defensive players to win the NFL Most Valuable Player award (Alan Page was the other) and the only defensive player to be the unanimous selection for MVP.[37][38][39] In addition, Taylor won the Defensive Player of the Year Award. The Giants finished the season 14–2 and dominated their opposition in the NFC playoffs, beating San Francisco and Washington by a combined score of 66–3.[40] Taylor appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated alone the week leading up to Super Bowl XXI with a warning from the magazine to the Denver Broncos regarding Taylor.[41] The Giants overcame a slow start in Super Bowl XXI to cruise past the Broncos 39–20.[40] Taylor made a key stop on a goal line play in the first half, tackling John Elway as he sprinted out on a rollout, a play which prevented a touchdown.

With the Super Bowl win, Taylor had just capped off an unprecedented start to his career. Six years into his career Taylor had won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award (1981), the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award a record three times (1981, 1982, 1986), been named to First-team All-Pro each year,[20] became the first defensive player in NFL history to be unanimously voted the league's MVP (1986), and led his team to a championship (1986).

The Giants appeared to have a bright future coming off their 1986 championship season as they were one of the younger teams in the league. They stumbled mightily the next season however, and fell to a record of 6–9 in the strike-shortened 1987 season.[42] Taylor continued to produce at his usual all-pro level after missing three games due to the strike, and he finished the season as the team leader in sacks with 12 in 12 games played.[42]

The Giants looked to rebound to their championship ways in 1988 but the start of the season was marred by controversy surrounding Taylor. Taylor tested positive for cocaine and was suspended by the league for thirty days, as it was his second violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. The first result in 1988 had been kept private and was not known to the public at the time. He was kept away from the press during this period and checked himself into rehab in early September.[43] Taylor's over-the-edge lifestyle was becoming an increasing concern for fans and team officials. This was especially true given the eventual career paths of talented players like Hollywood Henderson and others whose drug problems derailed their careers. Despite this distraction the Giants would tread water until Taylor was able to play, going 2–2 in the games Taylor missed. When Taylor returned he was his usual dominant self as he led the team in sacks again, with 15.5 in the 12 games he played in.[44] The season also contained some of the more memorable moments of Taylor's career. In a crucial late-season game with playoff implications against the New Orleans Saints, Taylor played through a torn pectoral muscle to record seven tackles, three sacks, and two forced fumbles.[20][45] Taylor's presence in the lineup was especially important as during the game the Giants' offense had trouble mounting many drives and was dominated in time of possession.[46] Several times throughout the game television cameras cut to the sidelines to show Taylor in extreme physical pain as he was being attended to by the Giants staff. Taylor's shoulder was so severely injured that he had to wear a harness to keep it in its place.[20] The Giants held on for a 13–12 win, and Parcells later called Taylor's performance "[t]he greatest game I ever saw."[47] However, due to the tie-breaker system, the Giants missed the playoffs in 1988 despite a 10–6 record.[44]

In 1989, Taylor recorded 15 sacks.[27] He was forced to play the latter portion of the season with a fractured tibia, which he suffered in a 34–24 loss to the 49ers in week 12.[48] Despite the off-the-field problems that Taylor experienced, he remained popular among his teammates and was voted defensive co-captain along with Carl Banks in 1989.[49] The two combined to fill the vacated defensive captain's spot left by the retired Harry Carson.[49] With the retirement of the nine-time Pro Bowler Carson, the Giants linebacker corps of Carson, Redding, Banks, and Taylor — which spearheaded the team's defense nicknamed the "Big Blue Wrecking Crew" in the 1980s — was broken up. The Giants went 12–4,[50] and advanced to the playoffs. In an exciting, down-to-the-wire game, the Rams eliminated the Giants 19–13 in the first round, despite Taylor's two sacks and one forced fumble.[51]

The 1990 season got off to an inauspicious start for Taylor and the Giants as Taylor held out of training camp, demanding a new contract with a salary of $2 million per year.[52] Talks dragged into September with neither side budging, and as the season approached Taylor received fines at the rate of $2,500 dollars a day.[53] Taylor signed a contract just four days before the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite sitting out training camp and the preseason, Taylor started against the Eagles and finished with three sacks and a forced fumble.[54] Taylor finished the season with 10.5 sacks and earned his 10th Pro Bowl in as many years, although the season marked the first time in Taylor's career that he would not make the First-team on the Associated Press All-Pro team.[20] The Giants started out 10 – 0 and finished with a 13–3 record. In the playoffs the Giants defeated the Bears 31–3,[55] and went on to face the rival 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. The Giants won a close contest 15–13,[55] as Taylor recovered a key fumble late in the game to set up Matt Bahr's game-winning field goal. In Super Bowl XXV, Taylor's Giants faced off against the Buffalo Bills and won one of the more entertaining Super Bowls in history, 20-19,[55] after Scott Norwood missed a potential game-winning field goal for Buffalo at the end of the game.

Final years and decline: 1991–1993

Following the 1990 season Parcells, whom Taylor had become very close to,[56] retired and the team was taken over by Ray Handley. 1991 marked a steep decline in Taylor's production. It became the first season in his career that he did not make the Pro Bowl, after setting a then record by making it his first ten years in the league. Taylor finished with 7 sacks in 14 games[27] and the Giants defense, while still respectable, was no longer one of the top units in the league.

Taylor rebounded in the early stages of what many thought would be his final season in 1992. Through close to 9 games Taylor was on pace for 10 sacks and the Giants were 5–4.[57] However, a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered in a November 8 game against Green Bay[58] sidelined him for the final seven games, during which the team went 1–6.[59] Before the injury Taylor had missed only 4 games due to injury in his 12 year career, including two the previous year.[58] Throughout the 1992 season, and the ensuing offseason, Taylor was noncomittal about his future, alternately saying he might retire, then later hinting he wanted a longer-term contract.[60]

Taylor returned for the 1993 season enticed by the chance to play with a new coach (the newly hired Dan Reeves), and determined not to end his career due to injury. The Giants experienced a resurgent season in 1993. They finished 11–5 and competed for the top playoff seeds in the conference.[61] Taylor finished with 6 sacks,[61] and the Giants defense led the NFL in fewest points allowed.[62] The Giants played the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs and defeated them 17–10.[61] The next week on January 15, 1994 in what would ultimately be Taylor's final game the Giants faced the 49ers and were beaten convincingly 44–3.[61] As the game drew to a conclusion television cameras drew in close on Taylor who was visibly crying. Taylor announced his retirement at the post-game press conference saying, "I think it's time for me to retire. I've done everything I can do. I've been to Super Bowls. I've been to playoffs. I've done things that other people haven't been able to do in this game before. After 13 years, it's time for me to go."[63]

By the time Taylor retired, he had amassed 1,088 tackles, 132.5 sacks (not counting the 9.5 sacks he recorded as a rookie because sacks did not become an official statistic until 1982), 9 interceptions, 134 return yards, 2 touchdowns, 33 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries, and 34 fumble return yards.[20]

Impact on the NFL

Lawrence Taylor, defensively, has had as big an impact as any player I've ever seen. He changed the way defense is played, the way pass-rushing is played, the way linebackers play and the way offenses block linebackers.

——John Madden[9]

Taylor is often considered to be one of the greatest defensive players in the history of football,[64] and has been ranked as the greatest defensive player in history by media members, former players, and coaches.[9][10][65] He is also widely considered to be one of the most feared players to ever step onto the football field.[9][66] Taylor's explosive speed and power is credited with having changed the position of outside linebacker from a "read and react" type of position to a more attacking, aggressive position.[67]

Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs developed the two tight end offense and the position of h-back to prevent Taylor from blitzing into the backfield unhindered.[37][68] As Gibbs stated, "[w]e had to try in some way have a special game plan just for Lawrence Taylor. Now you didn't do that very often in this league but I think he's one person that we learned the lesson the hard way. We lost ball games."[37] His skills at outside linebacker forced other coaches to retool their offensive schemes to manage his impact. In the late '70s and early '80s, a blitzing linebacker was almost always picked up by a running back. However, these players were usually no match for Taylor.[69] The tactic employed by Bill Walsh in the 1981-82 playoffs, namely of employing an offensive guard to block Taylor, began to be copied around the league. This move, however, left a hole in the offensive protection that a middle linebacker could exploit. Later, Walsh and other coaches began using offensive left tackles to block Taylor. Although Taylor made adjustments to his game to remain dominant, it soon became common in the NFL for offensive linemen to pick up blitzing linebackers, such as Taylor. In addition to the changes in offensive schemes Taylor influenced, he also introduced new defensive techniques to the game such as chopping the ball out of the quarterback's hands rather than tackling him.[64]

Drugs and extreme measures

Taylor's mug shot from his 1996 arrest in South Carolina for attempted possession of crack cocaine.

For me, crazy as it seems, there is a real relationship between wild, reckless abandon off the field and being that way on the field.

—Taylor in 1987[70]

In contrast to his success on the football field, Taylor's personal life has been marred by drug usage and controversy. When Taylor was once asked what he could do that no outside linebacker could, his answer was, "Drink".[9] However, alcohol abuse was not the largest of his substance abuse problems. After admitting to and testing positive for cocaine in 1987, he was suspended from football for 30 days in 1988 after failing a second drug test. After his second positive test he gave up drugs for five years as a third positive test would have ended his career.[66] However, as he approached retirement he looked forward to picking up the habit again, saying in his second autobiography "I saw coke as the only bright spot in my future."[71] After his retirement he began abusing drugs on a regular basis. He went through drug rehab twice in 1995, only to later be arrested twice over a three-year span for attempting to buy cocaine from undercover officers.[72] During this period Taylor lived almost exclusively in his home with white sheets covering his windows and only associated with other drug users.[66] Taylor later stated, “I had gotten really bad. I mean my place was almost like a crack house."[66] In his first autobiography Taylor also admitted that he had begun using drugs as early as his second year in the NFL.[73]

In a November 2003 interview with Mike Wallace on the television news magazine 60 Minutes, Taylor claimed he hired and sent prostitutes to opponents' hotel rooms the night before a game in an attempt to tire them out,[66] and that at his peak, he spent thousands of dollars a day on narcotics.[66] During the interview he also recounted several other instances of his hard-partying lifestyle during his years in the NFL, including an episode when he arrived to a team meeting in handcuffs after a night spent with some call girls. Taylor stated, "A couple of ladies that were trying out some new equipment they had. You know? And I just happened to, and they just didn't happen to have the key.”[66] He also recounted that to beat NFL drug tests he would submit the urine of his teammates.[66]

Post-NFL life

In Taylor's final year in the NFL (1993) he started a company called All-Pro Products. The company went public at $5 a share, which tripled in value during the first month of its existence. The stock price went up to $16.50 a share, at which point Taylor's stake had an estimated value of more than $10 million.[74] However, the company ceased production shortly thereafter and Taylor, who never sold his stock, lost several hundred thousand dollars. Taylor had been defrauded by several members of the penny stock firm Hanover Sterling & Company, who had short sold the company's stock, making it worthless.[75] The Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that two traders had manipulated the price of the stock,[76] which skyrocketed while the company was losing over $900,000.

In the first few years after his career ended Taylor worked in several regular television jobs. Taylor initially worked as a football analyst for the now defunct TNT Sunday Night Football.[45] In a one-off show, Taylor also appeared as a wrestler in the WWF, defeating Bam Bam Bigelow in the main event of WrestleMania XI.[45] He also worked as a color commentator on an amateur fighting program entitled Toughman on the FX channel.[77] On September 4, 1995, the Giants retired Phil Simms' jersey during halftime of a game against the Cowboys. Simms decided to celebrate the moment by throwing an impromptu ceremonial pass to Taylor. Simms recalled, "[a]ll of a sudden it kind of hit me, I've put Lawrence in a really tough spot; national TV, he's got dress shoes and a sports jacket on, and he's had a few beers and he's going to run down the field and I'm going to throw him a pass."[78] Simms then motioned for Taylor to run a long pattern and after 30–40 yards threw him the pass. Taylor later commented that the situation made him more nervous than any play of his career, "I'm saying to myself (as the pass is being thrown), 'If I drop this pass, I got to run my black ass all the way back to Upper Saddle River because there ain't no way I'm going to be able to stay in that stadium'."[78] Taylor caught the pass, however, and the capacity crowd in attendance cheered in approval.[79]

Taylor has recently been pursuing a career in acting, appearing in the Oliver Stone movie, Any Given Sunday where he played a character very much like himself. He also appeared as himself in both the HBO series The Sopranos and the film The Waterboy. Taylor later appeared with Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Roundtree, Christian Bale, Jeffrey Wright, Vanessa L. Williams, Toni Collette, Mekhi Phifer and Busta Rhymes in the 2000 version of Shaft. Taylor also added his voice to the video game, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, playing the steroid-riddled, possibly insane former football player B.J. Smith, a character that poked fun at his fearsome, drug-fueled public image. He also added his voice to the video game Blitz: The League, which was partially based on his life in the NFL.[80]

In 1999, when Taylor became eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there were some concerns that his hard-partying lifestyle and drug abuse would hurt his candidacy.[81] These concerns proved to be ill-founded, however, as he was voted in on the first ballot. His son Lawrence Taylor Jr. gave his introduction speech at the induction ceremony.[82] Taylor's ex-wife, his three children, and his parents were in attendance and during his induction speech Taylor acknowledged them saying, "[t]hank you for putting up with me for all those years."[82] He also credited former Giants owner Wellington Mara for being supportive of him saying, "[h]e probably cared more about me as a person than he really should have."[82]

Taylor is currently married to his third wife.[83] Taylor's soul-wrenching admission with Mike Wallace in 2003 reignited his popularity with the public. Taylor often speaks of his playing career, which he played with reckless abandon, and the drug-abusing stages of his life as the "L.T." periods of his life.[83] Taylor described "L.T." as an adrenaline junkie who lived life on a thrill ride.[83] Taylor commented in 2003 that "L. T. died a long time ago, and I don't miss him at all...all that's left is Lawrence Taylor."[83]

Taylor again re-emerged into the public eye in July 2006, appearing on the cover of a Sports Illustrated issue dedicated to former athletes and sport figures. In the magazine Taylor claimed his hobby of golf with helping him get over his previous hard-partying ways and drug filled lifestyle.[84] He is a founding partner at eXfuze, a network marketing company based in West Palm Beach, Florida. Along with former NFL greats such as Eric Dickerson and Seth Joyner, he is a spokesman for Seven+, the flagship multi-botanical drink produced by the company.[85] His son Brandon recently signed a national letter to play with the Purdue Boilermakers.[86] Taylor was a contestant on the 8th season of Dancing with the Stars,[87] partnered with Edyta Śliwińska. He was eliminated in the seventh week on the April 21, 2009 show.[88]

On November 8, 2009 Taylor was arrested in Miami-Dade County, Fla. for leaving the scene of an accident. He was released on $500 bond.[89]

Taylor was arrested on May 6, 2010 for having sex with a 16-year-old girl inside a Montebello, New York Holiday Inn Hotel.[90] He was charged with felony third-degree statutory rape, for allegedly engaging in sexual intercourse with someone under 17 while being over 21.[91] Taylor has also been charged with third-degree patronization for allegedly paying the underage victim $300 to have sex with him. His bail was set at $75,000.[92] His lawyer Arthur Aidala has stated "My client did not have sex with anybody. Period...Lawrence Taylor did not rape anybody." Taylor is facing up to five years in prison and life time sex offender registration if convicted of both crimes.[93] On June 23, 2010, Taylor was indicted of these charges,[94] and he pled not guilty on July 13.

Career statistics


SEASON TEAM GP Sacks Int Yds TD(int) FR Yds TD(fumb)
1981 New York Giants 16 9.5* 1 1 0 1 4 0
1982 New York Giants 9 12.5 1 97t 1 0 0 0
1983 New York Giants 16 12 2 10 0 2 3 1
1984 New York Giants 16 11.5 1 -1 0 0 0 0
1985 New York Giants 16 18 0 0 0 2 25 0
1986 New York Giants 16 20.5 0 0 0 0 0 0
1987 New York Giants 12 12 3 16 0 0 0 0
1988 New York Giants 12 15.5 0 0 0 1 0 0
1989 New York Giants 16 15 0 0 0 0 0 0
1990 New York Giants 16 10.5 1 11t 1 1 0 0
1991 New York Giants 14 7 0 0 0 2 0 0
1992 New York Giants 9 5 0 0 0 1 2 0
1993 New York Giants 16 6 0 0 0 1 0 0
Totals 184 142** 9 134 2 11 34 1
  • Unofficial statistic (sacks did not become an official statistic until 1982), however this number is stated on Taylor's Pro Football Hall of Fame bio,[20] and is considered to be accurate.
    • This total includes the 9.5 Taylor unofficially recorded as a rookie. However, the NFL officially recognizes 132.5 sacks for Taylor.

Key to Abbreviations GP= Games Played Int= Interception Yds= Yards t= Play resulted in a touchdown TD= Touchdowns FR= Fumbles Recovered

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