It’s fitting that the Dolphins host the Jets on Sunday, because it’ll give Jason Taylor a chance to sing his NFL swan song in a game between the two teams he most prominently played for.
After 15 years, Taylor announced this week he’s retiring from professional football.
“Look, Sunday is my last game,” Taylor said, via the Miami Herald. “I am going to go ahead and walk away hopefully healthy, get through this next one, this last one, preferably win the game and sail off in the sunset for a while. I’m not going to even leave the door open for that stuff. As a matter of fact, I may change my cell phone number so they can’t get me.”
Naturally, word of Taylor’s retirement has caused pundits to ask whether the pass-rushing wizard is a Hall of Famer. Because when a former superstar retires, that’s what we do.
But there shouldn’t be a debate with Taylor. If he isn’t a Hall of Famer, then there’s something wrong with the system.
He’ll retire in the sixth spot on the all-time sacks list, only two back of Michael Strahan. He led the league in that category in 2002, was a five-time All-Pro and was the NFL’s defensive player of the year in 2006. In addition to being a sack machine, he had a nose for recovering loose balls like very few defenders in league history, and is first on the all-time list with six touchdowns on fumble recoveries.
Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post called him the second-greatest player in team history (we all know who’s No. 1).
A rule of thumb I use is that you’re only a lock as a Hall of Famer if you win a major award more than once, but sheer accumulation of statistics gets Taylor a pass for never winning an MVP or a Super Bowl.
That said, there’s a big logjam in Canton when it comes to admitting pass-rushing specialists. The crowd at the door indicates that Taylor will likely have to wait for guys like Kevin Greene and Chris Doleman, both of whom had more career sacks than Taylor and are still awaiting induction. And it’s a bit troubling that Richard Dent, who put up similar career numbers as Taylor and won two Super Bowls, had to wait nearly a decade to make the Hall of Fame cut.
So it might take some time, but Taylor will be making a Hollywood-style speech in Canton eventually. There’s no debating that.