When Jason Taylor was up for the Pro Football Hall of Fame this time last year, he gained a letter of support from an unexpected fan.
The Patriots' quarterback pushed for Taylor's inclusion by writing a letter of recommendation to the Hall-of-Fame's board of selectors -- a move Taylor later said "floored" him. But what Brady did wasn't that far-fetched. After all, Taylor not only played the majority of his career in the same division as Brady (he was a star defensive end for Miami), but he sacked him numerous times.
In fact, the last sack of Taylor's career? Yep, it was Tom Brady, in the next-to-last game of the 2011 season.
But what made Brady's gesture unusual was that his former teammate -- cornerback Ty Law -- was in the same class as Taylor, the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame's Class of 2017. In fact, Law was a Top-10 finalist. But there was no letter of support for the guy who helped produce Brady's first Super Bowl victory with an interception return for a touchdown and who sold Brady his first home in Massachusetts.
"I meant to bust him up about that a little bit," Law said on a recent Talk of Fame Network broadcast. "I felt a little weight. I'm sitting there like: 'You know what? I felt, damn, Tom, I know he sacked you a bunch of times, but I helped you a little bit.' In practice I picked him off a couple of times to get your swag right, so I helped him out a little bit."
Taylor was a first-ballot choice for Canton's Class of 2017, and he later told the Talk of Fame Network that he didn't learn of Brady's support until Seth Levit, the director of Taylor's foundation (The Jason Taylor Foundation), notified him.
"I was floored," Taylor said then, "and it means the world to me."
Law understands. But he jokingly wonders if Brady goes to bat for him this year. After all, Law is one of the 27 semifinalists for the Class of 2018 and is an early favorite to be among the next inductees. But the competition is close -- especially at defensive back -- and Law could use the push.
"You know what?" Law said of Brady, "he has a great respect for Jason Taylor. I know he does. I don't know if he thought it may have been a little cliched to write about your own teammate. I don't know what it was; what his motivation was. But when I first heard about it I was kind of taken aback by it a little bit. I was like: 'You got a little more ink in that pen, don't you?'
"Me and Tom are great, and I haven't brought it up to him just yet. But you know I am going to bust his (chops) a little bit."