Blitzing Hollywood (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday June 19, 2007 2:13PM; Updated: Thursday July 26, 2007 11:57AM
The next day, in meetings with a big-time Hollywood producer and a high-powered agent, he'll be similarly subdued. "In this town, it's not about me," Taylor says. "All of us athletes have big egos, but I'm not so egotistical to come into Hollywood and say, 'Hey, I'm pretty damn good at football, so give me this project or this role.' I'm green. I've got to be coachable. Because in the end, I want to be the best. At everything."
When it comes to his day job, Taylor, 32, can justify having a big ego. Last year, in his 10th NFL season, he took his already formidable game to new heights, earning NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors despite lining up for one of the league's most underachieving teams. "He took over games," says coach Jeff Fisher, whose Tennessee Titans lost to the Dolphins 13-10 last September. "I don't feel there's been a player in our league the last few years who's had an impact on games, who people had to concern themselves with so thoroughly, the way Jason did last year."
The only person who made more plays in 2006 than JT was LT, and with all due respect to San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, he didn't have the terrorizing effect on opponents that Taylor had. "I've never competed against anybody any tougher and smarter," says New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Taylor's good friend and, in a 21-0 Pats loss in Miami last December, the primary target of Taylor's laser dot. "JT changes every game that he plays in."
Last season Taylor had 13 1/2 sacks, an NFL-leading 10 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 11 passes defensed, two interceptions (both returned for touchdowns), a blocked field goal and one rules-changing comment. In a conference call with Indianapolis reporters four days before the Dolphins' season-ending loss to the Colts, Taylor declared that Chargers outside linebacker and NFL sack leader Shawne Merriman shouldn't be eligible for 2006 honors because he served a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy; after the season the league and the players' association agreed that any player suspended for violating the policy would not be eligible for that season's Pro Bowl.
If the 6' 6", 241-pound Taylor was a tad surly in '06, he had his reasons. Miami, a trendy preseason Super Bowl pick, bombed like Poseidon, losing six of its first seven and finishing 6-10. It was Taylor who rousted the Dolphins from their slumber, defiantly proclaiming that his 1-6 team could beat the undefeated Chicago Bears when they met on Nov. 5. Then Taylor seemingly willed a 31-13 upset at Soldier Field, leaping to intercept a Rex Grossman pass and returning it 20 yards for a TD, and forcing a Grossman fumble on a play that put him over the 100-sack mark for his career.