When ex-Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor was arrested in early May for third degree rape and patronizing a teenage prostitute, I could not help flashing back a few years when Taylor, then embroiled in a drug-related legal battle, said that golf, not therapy, would help him get clean and straighten out his life.
Since then, Taylor has been involved in all sorts of trouble from drugs to tax problems to motor vehicle violations. His latest misstep is just another brick in a wall of bad decisions and self-inflicted woe.
In 2003, a “60 Minutes” interview with Taylor spurred much unnecessary controversy. The fact is that the man known as LT didn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already know.
Regarding bounties in the NFL, Taylor offered, “That’s just part of being the [expletive deleted] rough and tough football player. You get no pay for doing a cheap shot. But if I hit you straight up, yeah we’re going to get paid for that.”
The bounty issue was an old one. Fox analyst and ex-Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson used to go toe-to-toe with former Eagles coach Buddy Ryan on bounty accusations. Regarding Taylor’s bounty comments, former Cowboy Deion Sanders stated, “We passed the hat around. Guys put in $100 here, $100 there. You knocked the guy out, but it was not initiated from the team or the coaches.”
Added CBS studio host Dan Marino, “We did that with touchdown passes too. Big play, big touchdown passes, players would put it in a pool.”
Ironically, Taylor also discussed prostitution in the NFL, stating that teams would send women to their opponents’ hotel rooms to tire them out before games. He also reiterated that he and many NFL players spent as much as $1000 a day on drugs.
Was this really news? Taylor’s drug use is about as surprising as Monday coming after Sunday. Sanders admitted that much of what Taylor said about the NFL is true. CBS analyst Boomer Esiason disagreed with Sanders and Taylor stating, “This is not the NFL that I played in. (Taylor) talks about how he circumvented the NFL’s drug testing policy by using other players’ urine. That is an affront.”
Sanders’ response to Esiason’s naiveté was direct. “You don’t know that guys get high?” asked the former All-Pro defensive back. “20 year-old or 30 year-old guys with millions of dollars, that equals destruction.
“You can’t sit up here and tell me that you (were) immune to that stuff. My father used crack. My father used alcohol. I understood those things. I’ve never smoked or drank in my life because I knew about those things.”
Esiason was defending his league, but he was avoiding reality. Not every NFL player engages in such activity, but to deny it exists is silly. At the time of the “60 Minutes” interview, CBS’ NFL Today host Jim Nantz stated that Taylor declined an invitation to come on the show because he did not want to appear with Esiason.
Sanders estimated that 30% of NFL players engage in the activities described by Taylor. Marino said that his estimate was a bit high. Sanders suggested that quarterbacks like Marino and Esiason perhaps separated themselves from the rest of their teammates. All of this is, to quote William Shakespeare, much ado about nothing.
The bottom line is that in 2003, Lawrence Taylor was trying to trigger sales for a book. His constant claims that a solid 18 holes could cure his ills now ring hollow. After a series of screw-ups and vile behavior, it is clear that Taylor’s passion for golf is not even close to his passion for the gutter. Golf cannot cure Lawrence Taylor and, at this point, who knows if anything can? All of his foolish revelations and excuses are merely the same tired old rants of a gifted athlete hell-bent on self-destruction.
Syndicated columnist John Molori writes for numerous publications and websites. Email John at MoloriMedia@aol.com.
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