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1. Lawrence Taylor

There are a lot of great players who competed in the National Football League, though only a select few can be called legends.  Only a few of those legends can be called game-changers.  Let's meet Lawrence Taylor, one of the few who fits this description

Taylor played his entire career with the New York Giants, and his pass-rushing from the outside changed how defenses were built and how offenses had to react.  He was a pioneer in chopping the ball from opponents' hands, and he became not just the face of the Giants, but defensive football.  That is an icon!

L.T. was the second overall pick in 1981, and as a rookie, he not only won the Defensive Rookie of the Year but also the Defensive Player of the Year award.  This season began what was the most dominant six-year run by any Linebacker. From 1981 to 1986, Taylor was a perennial First Team All-Pro, a Pro Bowler, and never had a year with an Approximate Value less than 16.  That last fact was especially incredible considering that there were only nine games played in 1982, which was the year he won his second DPOY.

The climax of his career was 1986, where he led the NFL in Sacks with 20.5, and won his third DPOY, and was also named the AP MVP, the PFWA MVP, and the Bert Bell Award.  Taylor took his team to the Super Bowl, defeating the Denver Broncos.  This sounds like a pretty good season, doesn’t it?

Taylor had two more First Team All-Pros after that and a second Super Bowl.  Age and mileage caught up with him, and his last Pro Bowl came in 1990, but he played three more seasons, retiring in 1993.  Taylor had 141 Sacks (132.5 official, as in 1981 it was not a stat yet) over his career, with a seven-year streak of double-digit numbers from 1984 to 1990.

As phenomenal as Taylor was a player, it can be argued that his drug use during his playing days hampered him from being even better.  Can you imagine Taylor being even more dominant?  

Taylor entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999, and he was a member of the 1980s All-Decade Team, the NFL 75th, and 100thAnniversary Teams.  His #56 was also retired by the team in 1994. 

The Bullet Points

  • Position: Linebacker
  • Acquired: Selected in the 1st Round, 2nd Overall in the NFL Draft 4/28/81.
  • Departed:

    Retired 1/15/94.

  • Games Played: 184
  • Notable Statistics:

    180 Games Started
    9 Interceptions
    134 Interception Return Yards
    2 Interception Return Touchdowns
    11 Fumble Recoveries
    34 Fumble Recovery Yards
    132.5 Quarterback Sacks*
    192 Approximate Value

    *Sacks were not a stat until 1982.

  • Major Accolades and Awards:

    Super Bowl Champion (XXI & XXV)
    AP MVP (1986)
    PFWA MVP (1986)
    Bert Bell Award (1986)
    A.P. Defensive Player of the Year (1981, 1982 & 1986)
    A.P. Defensive Rookie of the Year (1981)
    First Team All-Pro (1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988 & 1989)
    Second Team All-Pro (1987 & 1990)
    Pro Bowl (1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988 & 1989)
    Highest Approximate Value (1985)
    Most Quarterback Sacks (1986)

Last modified on Monday, 21 June 2021 21:34
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