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Jill Lieber
January 26, 1987
Lawrence Taylor may be the most bruising linebacker ever, but he claims to have a gentler side
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January 26, 1987

Invincible? No, Just Real Mean

Lawrence Taylor may be the most bruising linebacker ever, but he claims to have a gentler side

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That night Lawrence told Linda he wanted to quit football.

It's hard to imagine the New York Giants reaching Super Bowl XXI without Lawrence Taylor, the practically perfect linebacker.

"Who else is there?" asks Don Shula, the Miami Dolphins coach. "Taylor could be the best ever."

His portfolio is already bulging with every pro football honor imaginable: Pro Bowl starter in each of his six seasons; three times the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year; and this season the first defensive player in history to be the consensus MVP.

Lawrence Taylor, 27, may be the most dominant player in football today. "What makes LT so great, what makes him so aggressive, is his total disregard for his body," says Bill Belichick, the Giants defensive coordinator.

Taylor seems to get a morbid, masochistic delight out of his ferocious tackles. He has been known to wink and smile at his prey across the line, as if to warn, Ready or not, here I come!

"There's a sack, and then, there's a sack!" LT explains. "You run up behind the quarterback. He doesn't see you. You put your helmet in his back. Wrap yourself around him. Throw him to the ground...and the coach comes running out and asks, 'Are you all right?' "

And when he's not delivering the hits, he enjoys watching them. "In defensive meetings, while we're studying film, all of a sudden Lawrence will say, 'Ah, Bill. Run that play back again,' " Belichick says. "And I'll realize he's looking at some guy—20 yards away from the ball—a wide receiver who was knocked off the screen by a defensive back. I've even seen him get his thrills watching one of our own guys get dusted."

Interestingly, Taylor is somewhat uneasy with his bloodthirsty, tough-guy image. He believes his accomplishments on the field have made him a larger-than-life character.

"When people meet me, they always expect me to be bigger," he says, shaking his head. "I'm small."

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