Talk of Fame Network
First-year candidate Jason Taylor is one of 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame's Class of 2017, and it's easy to see why. He was a premier pass rusher, ranking seventh in career sacks with 139.5, and was a takeaway machine – with 47 forced fumbles and an NFL-best six fumble returns for touchdowns.
But while the former Miami Dophins' star pass rusher is Hall-of-Fame worthy, he admitted he never really thought much about having his bust in Canton ... until, of course, we asked him to on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast.
"If you were standing in front of voters today," we said, "what would you tell them about yourself?"
"That’s so unfair," Taylor answered. "I'm so not-that-guy. What would I tell them? I'd probably say, 'Please,' to start off with."
Well, that won't be necessary. Not when you were a six-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro, former Defensive Player of the Year, former Walter Payton Man of the Year and member of the 2000s' all decade team.
"Look," said Taylor, "I went to work every day, tried to perfect my craft every day and kind of beat the odds of being able to make it as a 240-pound defensive end playing in the three point. So that was something I took a lot of pride in.
"I worked at it. I think I affected the teammates around me, and that was really, really important to me -- to help make the guys around me better, whether it be drawing a double-team or having a game plan set to kind of neutralize me. I always wanted to elevate the play of guys around me.
"I brought my best every week. I think I went 9-1/2 years without missing a game. It wasn't because I shouldn’t have missed a game. I always took pride in being there, being available and being what I thought was one of the best to go out there and put the effort forward. I wasn’t always the best player on the field, but I certainly was going to play longer and harder than anybody out there."
And he succeeded – lasting 15 years before retiring following the 2011 season. Yet, for all his accolades on the field, it was something he achieved for his off-the-field work that he cherishes most.
The 2007 Walter Payton Man-of-the-Year award.
"That stands out the most," he said. "It's kind of the culmination of what you do on the field and the impact you're making off the field in your community, the leadership you're showing your team … and your talent … and really how you're representing the league as a whole. So that was very, very meaningful in 2007 when I won that and, ironically, it was coming off a 1-15 season.
"So, as football was kind of at its bottom for me, team-wise, with the record being the way it was, to be able to have the Man of the Year to lean back on and say, 'You know what? Regardless of what's going on in the game, I think the impact you're making in people's lives is a lot more important.' So it really kept things in perspective for me."
(Jason Taylor photos courtesy of the Miami Dolphins)