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Lawrence Taylor Biography

NFL Player Bio: Lawrence Taylor

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

Lawrence Taylor, known simply as LT, is one of the greatest football players of all-time. When you watch football, the defense sometimes just looks like a bunch of guys running around. Sure, some make incredible plays and Taylor surely isn’t the only great defensive player in history. It’s just that when watching Taylor, you would see this gigantic guy flying around killing everyone in his path. Something about LT just stood out above the rest. LT was just a little different.

He didn’t begin playing football in earnest until his junior year in high school and as he entered college, there was little clamor for him. He ended up at the University of North Carolina, beginning his big-time college career as a defensive lineman, before moving to the position where he would make his home--linebacker. In 1980, he recorded 16 quarterback sacks. By now, Taylor was no secret and considered a top NFL prospect.

The New York Giants, at the time a franchise mired in a long line of losing, had the second pick in the 1981 Draft and used it to select Taylor. With other key players the Giants acquired around this time, Taylor would help turn the Giants into a top team in the years to come. It didn’t take long for Taylor to establish himself as a force.


In his rookie year, he was named Defensive Player of the Year, the only time that has happened before or since. Opposing offenses, particularly quarterbacks were aghast at this new presence in the league. Taylor was like a wild animal. He moved as fast as anyone on the field, while possessing incredible agility and power. To top it all off, he was mean and had an innate sense of where the ball was going to be.

Picture of Lawrence Taylor

In Taylor’s first season, the Giants made the playoffs. It would get even better later. Taylor’s second season came in the strike-shortened 1982 season, where he won his 2nd Defensive Player of the Year award. One of his more endearing plays was when he picked off a pass against the Lions and ran back the ball 97 yards for a touchdown, looking every bit as fast as a top receiver. There had certainly been some fierce linebackers before Taylor played, but no one had really seen such a fierce and athletic presence at that position until LT exploded on the NFL scene.

1983 was a rough year for the Giants and LT, but in 1984, Taylor returned to top form and the Giants again made the playoffs, before again being eliminated. Taylor nevertheless made his 4th Pro Bowl in as many seasons. In 1985, the Giants cemented themselves as a consistent playoff force with Taylor having a huge year. Of his 13 sacks that season, his most memorable was when he ended the career of Joe Theismann in as gruesome a play seen in the NFL up until that time. Unfortunately, the Giants ran smack dab into a magic year by the Chicago Bears, who bounced them in the playoffs.

In 1986, Taylor had 20.5 sacks and the Giants really hit their stride. New York was 14-2 and usually their defense crushed opponents, especially in the playoffs where they only allowed 3 points to the powerful offenses of the 49ers and Redskins. In the Super Bowl, the Giants defeated the Broncos 39-20. Taylor was again Defensive Player of the Year.

The Giants were unable to forge a dynasty during this period, as some suspected they might. Taylor also struggled. Though still a huge force on the field, off-the-field problems and injuries would begin to plague him. He was suspended for cocaine after positive tests in 1987 and 1988. Still, he played through pain and the Giants were far better off with Taylor on the field. He was still putting up big sack totals and remained the best at his position, though the wheels were slowly starting to come off.

In 1990, Taylor helped get the Giants back on top with a 13-3 regular season. Taylor made his 10th consecutive Pro Bowl. A key recovery by LT in the NFC title game led to a game-winning field goal and in Super Bowl XXV, the Giants won a thriller over the Bills, 20-19. His last 3 seasons saw flashes of his old brilliance, but the magic was gone. Taylor has experienced more than his share of trouble. His playing years were plagued with a reckless personal life and his retirement has seen some rather undignified headlines. Behind that is a guy who doesn’t seem like that horrible of a person--just more of a poor decision-maker. He is the greatest linebacker of all-time and one of the best to play the game--period.

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