Lawrence Taylor: One Bad Motherfucker

Leave a comment

November 3, 2013 by NowhereButPop

By Andrew Doscas

After seeing the new Showtime documentary, LT: The Life & Times based on the life of former Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, I was left conflicted on how I should feel about Lawrence Taylor.  As a Giants fan, I love the guy; he brought us two Superbowl victories, was the MVP of the league in 1986, and is the greatest defensive player of all time.  His personal life however is far less illustrious and glamorous, as it is riddled with legal trouble, drugs, and prostitutes.

The best thing that the documentary did, was that it displayed Lawrence Taylor as is.  There really was no bias one way or the other about what the audience should think about his character.  It showed us the good and the bad in Taylor’s life immediately from draft day back in 1981 and the impact his decisions of yesterday have on his life today.  But most importantly it showed us that no matter what Lawrence Taylor is and always will be one bad motherfucker.

On the field, Taylor was everything you could want in a player.  He was a champion, a pro baller, an MVP, and a man possessed with an indomitable will.  But, as with most athletes, Taylor had a dark sided marred by drugs, prostitutes, legal problems, and an overall hedonistic lifestyle, which has continued to haunt him long past his playing days.  What makes Taylor such an interesting case is that even though at the time, his personal life, and all the ensuing problems involved, never seemed to affect his play or how he was perceived in New York.  It was only after he retired that a greater focus was put on his destructive tendencies; this was because he no longer had his outstanding play to draw peoples’ attention away from his myriad of problems.

As a person, I think LT is someone who just gets bored very easily, and I think the thrill of knowingly doing something wrong is something that is too strong to resist.  Look to the following quote below, and you can start to understand:

“When the Super Bowl was over…Everyone was so excited, but by then I felt deflated. I’d won every award, had my best season, finally won the Super Bowl. I was on top of the world right? So what could be next? Nothing. The thrill is the chase to get to the top. Every day the excitement builds and builds and builds, and then when you’re finally there and the game is over…

And then, nothing.”

Here is a guy who gets bored from winning, from being the best, and he saw that as having nowhere else to go, and as a result his need for the next big rush completely overtook his life for the next 15 years.  When you look at the things that have gotten Lawrence Taylor into legal trouble, mainly prostitution and drugs and gambling, these are all activities in which someone is constantly pursuing something.  With drugs, you’re chasing your first high, with gambling, you’re chasing money, and with prostitution, you’re chasing an orgasm, on top of the desire to experience someone new.

Lawrence Taylor is a kind of Icarus whose wings didn’t melt when he flew too close to the Sun.  He conquered the skies and grew bored with it so he decided to nosedive into the sea below.  While he has admitted to making poor decisions and engaging in many vices, he doesn’t seem repentant of that lifestyle.  He understands that some of the things he had done were wrong, but he also acknowledges that they were things that he wanted to do at the time.  There’s an unrepentant aspect, but it’s also combined with an awareness of wrongdoing that is absent from most other athletes.[1]  What it comes down to is that LT really didn’t see how, or comprehend how the decisions he made in his life affected those around him.  Part of the reason was that because of his football prowess, and status as being the best player on a championship team in New York City, his behavior was pretty much excused or put up with so long as he kept up his level of play.[2]  LT was, and still is a guy who wants to have fun, damn the costs, and in New York City, having a good time had never been easier for him.

Even though they share some similarities, I can’t help but see Lawrence Taylor and Earvin Johnson as mirror images of each other.  While they were playing both men partied all the time, and reaped the pleasures of being star athletes in New York and Los Angeles.  But, what makes them different is that Taylor let the partying and lifestyle overtake him, Johnson eventually rose above it.  This has to do with how that lifestyle treated them.  Both loved it, especially all the women that they were sleeping with, but with Johnson something terrible had happened to him because of that lifestyle that provided for him a moment of clarity wherein he took the opportunity to quit that life.  Because Johnson contracted HIV, as a result of the life that he was leading, he was forced to give all that up now.  Nothing as catastrophic happened to Taylor that would force him to stop partying, doing drugs, and sleeping around.  As a result, and even in the face of all his legal problems, he feels that nothing catastrophic enough had happened to him that would force him to rethink his life.

Throughout the 80s, Lawrence Taylor was LT, and Earvin Johnson was Magic Johnson.  When both men talk about who they were back then, it’s like they are talking about someone else.  Magic Johnson was the star point guard of the Lakers who loved to go out, sleep around, and be the life of the party.  Earvin Johnson was this easy going kid from Michigan who loved playing basketball and being with his family.  LT was the bruising football player, whose decadence almost ruined Lawrence Taylor’s life many a times.  Lawrence Taylor is the man who is trying to reconnect with his children, stay sober, and be the kind of person that LT prevented him from being.  These alter egos that were created as a result of their status almost destroyed their lives.  For Earvin, being Magic almost killed him, and for Lawrence, being LT almost took everything of import away.

When we look at Magic Johnson, we see a fun loving guy, who while not being destructive, led a very hedonistic lifestyle that ultimately led to him getting HIV.  But he learned from his mistakes and his now admirably doing everything he can to spread awareness about the disease, and funding research on how to one day develop a cure.  Magic Johnson is a role model in the truest sense because he’s someone who has learned from his mistakes and has become a better person because of it.  LT, on the other hand, is someone who keeps falling into old, dangerous habits; habits that had slowly torn his life apart in the 80s and 90s.  He represents someone who doesn’t seem to want to change, despite knowing that change would be beneficial to all.  But he’s trying, and for all this troubles and plights, there is an effort to better himself.

What people will always remember about Magic Johnson was his smile, which would light up the room.  He always looked like he was having fun, and that’s because he was always having fun.  He’s someone who just seems to radiate joy and fun.  By contrast, Lawrence Taylor always looked pissed off, like he was getting ready for a fight.[3]  He was someone who would evoke fear.  No matter what Taylor does from this point on, he’ll always be remembered for being a tough physical scowling player.  When asked how he would describe who LT was to his grandchildren, he replied “LT was a bad motherfucker”.  On the field there was no one badder, and I suspect that that’s exactly how he wants the rest of us to remember him-as one bad motherfucker.


[1] Most baseball players who took PEDs are not only unrepentant, but also believe they did no wrong (A-Rod, Palmeiro, Sosa, Clemens, McGwire…etc.).

[2] Some examples include: trading urine with other players so as to avoid drug detection, buying hookers for the entire team, (and the opposing team the day before a game to wear them out), coming to practice hungover, and sleeping during other practices.

[3] Probably because he was.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Join 121 other followers

%d bloggers like this: