On top of his game and happily married again, could life be any better for Jason Taylor? Of course it could
Posted: Tuesday June 19, 2007 2:13PM; Updated: Thursday July 26, 2007 11:57AM
The illustrious flack has handled the likes of Hendrix, Joplin and the Beach Boys. On more than one level Sandy Friedman (a.k.a. the Sand Man) has enjoyed close to a pitch-perfect career. So when Friedman, the executive vice president for music and sports at public-relations powerhouse Rogers & Cowan, stares intently at a photo of Jason and Katina Taylor on a recent afternoon in Los Angeles, a great deal is riding on what he will say next. In the publicity shot a handsome, tuxedo-clad Jason, the Miami Dolphins' All-Pro defensive end, is posing James Bond-like while his gorgeous wife, resplendent in a flower-print dress, gets Bond-girl frisky, and it all makes the Sand Man light up like Jimi's Stratocaster at Monterey Pop. Friedman shifts his gaze to the real-life Jason, whom he had met only five minutes earlier, then looks at the photo again. Mindful that the Taylors will be visiting London in late October, when the Dolphins face the New York Giants in the first NFL regular-season game outside North America, Friedman foresees tabloid exposure worthy of the Beckhams.
"We sell Tim McGraw and Faith Hill as the First Couple of Country Music; that's how we want to position you [as an NFL couple] over there," the Sand Man says excitedly. "The trick is getting you off the sports pages and into the other parts of the paper -- and that's what this allows us to do." Friedman slaps the photo on the conference-room table for emphasis. "They'll eat this up on Fleet Street. They love couples! We'll make sure you're seen with all the right people in all the right places. Because what you're giving us, with the business interests and lifestyle and charitable efforts and entertainment ventures, is perfect for the business we're in."
Fiddling with a pair of oversized Prada shades, Jason looks at his L.A.-based agent, Gary Wichard, and nods approvingly. The two men have plotted to raise Taylor's profile since his days as a lukewarm NFL draft project out of Akron, and this meeting is designed to bolster his appeal as a crossover celebrity. While Friedman and Wichard, who have known each other for years, ponder various marketing strategies, Taylor says little. A man who, in Katina's words, "gets out of bed to start his day like someone bursting out of a three-point stance," seems strangely locked in read-and-react mode. Later, he'll talk plenty -- about his desire to transcend his sport; the challenge of repairing a marriage that nearly collapsed last year; and his frustration when the Dolphins used the No. 9 pick to draft wideout-return man Ted Ginn Jr. instead of quarterback Brady Quinn. But now he's in L.A. to listen and learn.