"Before the season, we were running 330-yard sprints. He was gasping. Afterward, he said, 'I've always wanted to train. I just couldn't ever make myself do it.' "
This season Taylor gave in. Just a bit. He did all of the required weight training—twice a week until midseason, once a week after that—but little else.
"Lifting weights would help him more than anyone else on the Giants," Parker says. "He can lift weights for one hour and derive more strength and speed than others will in six days. Think of the dramatic impact that would have on the league.
"It isn't that Lawrence is a lazy person. He just has a short attention span. Look, I see his point. Why should he kill himself if he can already dominate people? I fight him, but I can't win. I've told him that if he doesn't start now, there will be a serious drop-off in his performance. Within two years. Maybe I'll just tell him lifting weights will help his golf game."
Clarence and Iris Taylor were married when they were teenagers. They lived in Williamsburg, Va. Three sons followed in rapid succession—Clarence Jr., now 28, Lawrence, and Kim, 26. Clarence Sr. has worked for 24 years in the Newport News shipyards, first as a truck driver and now as a dispatcher. Iris works for the Williamsburg school system as a child/family development specialist and counselor.
Lawrence became rambunctious as he grew older. To keep him out of mischief, Mrs. Taylor had him hammering nails, sweeping the floor and carrying sacks of groceries. "My sister said, 'You're going to work that poor child to death.' " she recalls. "He was always on his knees, sliding on his face, climbing trees. Every time I looked, the knees in his pants were worn out."
When he was nine, Lawrence begged to play for the Williamsburg City League football team, but his mother feared he would be hurt. Instead, he played baseball and was an all-star four summers in a row as a catcher-designated hitter.
Finally, when he was 13, Taylor got his wish to play football in a local kids league.
Then in the fall of Lawrence's sophomore year at Lafayette High, Mel Jones, the assistant football coach, noticed Taylor "standing outside the commons...with that baby face...doing nothing."
"Son, are you playing football?" Jones asked Taylor.