Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Clearing the air on the Jason Taylor situation

First, let me start off by congratulating Jason Taylor for finishing in second place on Dancing With The Stars.

Most people who follow football, and the Dolphins in particular, can't go more than a sentence without talking about Jason Taylor's DWTS experience before quickly noting that they didn't watch it. I mean, why would they? They wouldn't want to jeopardize their awesome manliness right?

Give me a break.

I'm not ashamed to admit it - I watched the show. I watched the show because I'm a huge fan of Jason's and I was very interested to see how someone who is so supremely talented at one thing (football) would fare at something that is so foreign to them (dancing). Honestly, who can't relate to trying something completely outside of your comfort zone. I applaud Jason for his efforts on the show and I wish every guy with a keyboard and bile ready to be spilled on the net would just lay off him for appearing on the show. Take your insecurities out somewhere else.

Moving on, I'd like to address all those people out there who are now questioning Jason's leadership role on this team. It was announced today by Coach Sparano that Jason will not be attending any of the team's offseason activities, including all OTAs, minicamps, and even training camp. Just watching Sparano's post-practice press conference, with all his mentioning of the nine weeks of hard work that everyone in Miami had been putting in, is enough to tell everyone that Parcells and Sparano are not happy that Jason was on the show.

Too bad, guys. There are so many other things that you could be angry about right now, like perhaps the offseason incidents requiring police intervention by Matt Roth, Channing Crowder, Reagan Mauia, and now Will Allen.

What did Taylor do? All he did was appear on a family-oriented show which cast him, the National Football League, and National Football League players in a pristine light in the public eye. This was the guy who was the NFL Man of the Year last year, recognizing both his on and off-field contributions. For a team coming off a 1-15 season, Jason Taylor is the kind of player who should be embraced.

And yet in far too many people's eyes, he is no longer a leader because he is going to miss the entire offseason, while perhaps trying to force a trade. Was Michael Strahan no longer a leader when he came back to the Giants last season after sitting out the entire offseason? Jason's reached the status as a player where he is going to be a leader no matter when he shows up. In fact, I'd argue that he was being a leader by going on DWTS. He was setting an example for how the rest of his teammates should conduct themselves in the offseason - by staying in shape and casting a fine light on the organization. Maybe Reagan "you should know" Mauia could take some notes. Not every leader needs to lead by being an omnipresent force and Jason proved that.

So what should happen now? Well, it's pretty clear that the front office doesn't want him back (although it won't surprise me at all to see him welcomed back once the season rolls around). The problem is that they missed their best chance to get top value for him by not pulling the trigger on a deal before or during the draft. Now, if they are serious about unloading him, they are going to have to take 75 cents on the dollar.

Jason Taylor has put in Herculean efforts for the Miami Dolphins franchise and been let down far too often. He has every right to want to play out his last few seasons with a contender, and at this point, I wouldn't be upset to see him get that chance (as long as its not in New England).

Then again, I also wouldn't rule out a Strahan-like ending to this, wherein Jason sits out the offseason and comes back to play in September. Not every player has built up the cachet to do this. Of course, not every player has accomplished as much as Jason Taylor.

He's earned this. And that's what people need to remember.

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