This whole Lawrence Taylor mess turns my stomach. It leaves me disappointed, disturbed, dismayed -- choose your adjective -- the same emotions many of you are feeling this morning.
Thing is, I can't add a whole lot to the story. I have never met the man, I did not write about the Giants back in the day Taylor was the best linebacker the NFL has ever seen. So, rather than have me pontificate with some meaningless reaction, let's look around and see how the people who know him are reacting.
- Ernie Palladino Thursday re-visited his 1995 run-in with Taylor, in which Taylor grabbed Palladino around the throat during a heated argument.
- Veteran reporter Vinny DiTrani says former teammates are reserving judgment. DiTrani, though, pretty sums up what we are all thinking with this:
Taylor should not have been in Room 160 of the Holiday Inn with a 16-year-old girl, period. He’s still a legend, someone who can’t make like a Stealth bomber and fly under the radar. How in the world could he spend $300 for a few minutes of a night where he could have slept soundly far into the morning instead of waking up to police questions at 4 a.m.?
That’s why former coaches and teammates and the Giants’ organization are reserving comment on the incident. They don’t want to sound like they are supporting a man who could have committed such a heinous a crime, even if in their hearts they had been pulling for him to stay on the straight path he had set for the past dozen years.
Same here. If the allegations are true, Taylor deserves whatever punishment he receives. But even if they are not true, he’s still guilty of poor judgment and decision-making, the same failings that will cost [Ben] Roethlisberger six games with-time off for good behavior from the 2010 season. For Taylor it won’t cost him games, just respect.
- Steve Serby, like many, is hoping this is not true. Also like many, he is fearing that it is.
For the last dozen years, Lawrence Taylor has kicked his drug addiction, one day at a time.
If he is found guilty of third-degree rape of a 16-year-old runaway yesterday in upstate Suffern, then we will have no choice but to come to the sad realization that he hasn't kicked his sex and trouble addictions.
He lived on the edge as a Giant, then went full speed over the edge in the tumultuous, crazed, cocaine-fueled years after his retirement. Now, having recently finished "Dancing With the Stars," he finds himself dancing with the devil again, a dance that, if proven guilty, could cost him as much as four years behind bars.
- For Mike Lupica, the saddest part of this is that it makes it more difficult to remember Taylor for what he achieved on the field.
However this plays out before Taylor is next in that same courtroom on the 10th of June, Taylor looked pathetic Thursday, in his black shirt and jeans, hands cuffed in front of him.
Once you thought the only way to stop him from getting to the quarterback was to put cuffs on him. Once you hoped that his life wouldn't bring him to a setting like this: To the Holiday Inn where he was arrested. To the courtroom where he was arraigned.
But there he was next to his lawyer, the charges against him being read by the judge. Now there was none of the excitement he used to bring to football, when he made outside linebacker one of the glamour positions of the sport, even made the tackle charged with trying to block him eventually become rich and famous for protecting the quarterback's blind side.
Now there was just the dry, unemotional, matter-of-fact language of the law.
- Yahoo! Sports Jason Cole says if Taylor he guilty he should not just go to prison, he should be removed from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This is actually a tremendous read. Here is part of it.
Taylor isn’t just the greatest linebacker (and perhaps greatest overall defensive player) to walk the face of the Earth, he’s a celebrity. Football gave him that platform. Football gave him a chance for fame, wealth and admiration.
What Taylor has done with that opportunity is chew it up, spit it out and ground it in the dirt. Most of those problems were crimes against himself, such as drug use. Those kinds of problems deserve a certain amount of compassion.
Now, however, Taylor has allegedly committed a crime against a child. Maybe he was duped by some pimp. I’m not buying it. I have a 15-year-old child and I’m roughly the same age as Taylor. You can’t tell me he couldn’t have figured out there was something wrong with the picture.
Furthermore, you can’t tell me that Taylor couldn’t have found a consenting adult if he’d just looked around a little, even in suburban Suffern, where he was staying. Or he easily could have hooked up with a prostitute who was of age. Yeah, that’s illegal, but at least everybody knows the score.
Instead, Taylor reminds us of the lesson that Roethlisberger just finished teaching: Some athletes don’t think twice about who or what they trample in order to get their satisfaction. They don’t even really care about the game.