Jets' Taylor talks football, personal life, Jersey Shore'

Aug. 20, 2010 at 3:20 a.m.

By Dan Le Batard

McClatchy Newspapers


Twenty questions with Jason Taylor:

1. How often do the kids make big, tough Taylor cry?

"Laughter A lot more often than I tell people. At least once a month. Just the other night, my wife called me at training camp. My son was confused about why he can't see me during it. He is 7. I've always been at home for training camp. I talked to him on the phone. He didn't understand. I explained to him that I'm trying to be the best, that professionals practice and make sacrifice. It brought me to tears. He counts down the days now - as do I."

2. Something you see on TV that consistently makes you angry?

"Jersey Shore. Housewives of whatever state. It feels like it is leading to the demise of society. Trash TV is like watching a car wreck. You know you shouldn't hold up traffic watching someone else's calamity, but it is entertainment now."

3. What's the most difficult thing about being married?

"(Long pause) If you have the right one, I don't think it is difficult. If you have the wrong one, it makes your life Hell. I've got the best, so I can't complain."

4. You have a lot of stuff on your body that doesn't work right?

"I have a left shoulder that is hanging on by a string. It hurts to swing a golf club. I can't wear flip flops too long because of what is torn in my feet. I've had a bad back for six years. I've probably had six to eight epidural shots. I've popped every finger out. Not just sprained. Dislocated and put back. I can't make a fist with either hand. Hurts to tie my shoes. I have to use shoe horns. Other than that, life is good. And I'm one of the very fortunate healthy ones who has played this game for a long time."

5. Something fans really don't understand about football?

"The workload. I think what people least understand is the work that goes into this. We practice more than any other professional sport and play the least. In a calendar year, without playoffs, we play only 16 times. We practice and work out an awful lot."

6. You had a pretty brutal upbringing. What's the most scared you've ever been?

"I've been . . . (long pause). I don't want to open up too many boxes. (Long pause.) (Appears to choke up) I've been held at gunpoint and had death threats from people you wouldn't expect. I don't want to open this box. I'm coming to grips with it."

7. I'm sorry. What are you working on to improve yourself?

"I want to stop being impatient. I'm impatient about that. I want to work more on enjoying the good times and successes more as they come and not stacking them on a shelf to enjoy later. Being more present and attached to small things."

8. Why can't more coaches be like Rex Ryan? A friend and ally and leader, too?

"People are scared of change, afraid to step outside the box, do something that isn't the norm. NFL training camps are five weeks and all these two-a-days just because they say you should and that's how it has always been. Who is they? There has always been a separation of church and state between coaches and players, so it remains that way. Just one man's opinion but people are afraid to put themselves out there and give people places to point if they fail by being different. So some people abandon their true personalities to become the coach instead of just being themselves."

9. Sounds like you were thinking about that when you decided to do "Dancing With The Stars." That doesn't seem to be in your personality.

"Exactly. That's exactly why I did it. I told my wife at the very beginning. I'm either brave or crazy. I'm going to put myself out there in front of 25 million people with something I'm not comfortable about? You can't be afraid to fail when trying to succeed. If you are trying to be mediocre, or happy with the status quo, then don't take chances and don't fail and don't go anywhere."

10. What is your biggest frustration with the media?

"Creating a perception that is hard to change. And context is always an issue, particularly today. There's less accountability today, especially with the blogs. You say and write what you want without repercussions or accountability and create a perception that might not be accurate."

11. This question puts you in a bad spot because it will leave people out. But off the top of your head, the five Dolphins you most respect?

"Wow. Dan Marino. Zach Thomas. Trace Armstrong. Tim Bowens. Richmond Webb."

12. We saw you an awful lot with your bald head buried in your hands in front of your locker after Dolphins games. What's the most football has ever hurt you?


13. Angriest you've ever been with your brother-in-law, Zach Thomas?

"We were playing basketball once in Hialeah on separate teams. I was intimidating his team, elbowing and pushing. He got in my face on a travel call. Never went to blows, but we were chest to chest. Or, in his case, chest to chin. I was being a jerk. But that doesn't mean I was wrong. I was trying to win. And I didn't travel. He knows he was wrong. And I won the game."

14. Are you still an unreasonable competition-aholic who won't let his kids win at games?

"I'm getting softer in my old age. I ... you know what? Who am I BSing? I still try to win. I never let them beat me at Go Fish."

15. Biggest myths in sports?

"That it's always about the money, and that there is any loyalty in sports."

16. You saying that because of what happened recently with the Dolphins?

"Yes and no. I learned it early. People expect loyalty from player to team, but there is no loyalty from team to player. I mean, they asked Dan Marino to step away. Who is bigger than that? He's America's guest. He can knock on any door in America at 5:30, and they'll let him in for dinner. And he was shown the door. I remember saying early to Zach, 'Who are we to cry? At some point, we ain't going to have a chance. They did it to Dan. How can we cry when they did it to Dan?'"

17. You have always been tremendous in this community - what's the most moved you've ever been by a child?

"That's tough to say. Happens so often. There have been plenty of times in hospitals when they give you a hug or say thank you, and you get that lump in your throat and that tear in your eye. It brings back that kid in me every time. I think back to when I didn't have a car or TV and wondering why I had to take the bus. Makes you enjoy the blessings.

Nine out of 10 times, though, as much as it means to those kids, it means more to me. I give those hours to those kids, but there are three to 10 seconds every time that I take for me. I want to stop and feel it and see it and put myself back in their shoes. I try to be very conscious in that moment. That's not for them. That's for me."

18. Queasiest you've felt as a Jet? Walking into the facility? Putting on that uniform?

"The queasiest point was back in Miami, when I had to announce to the media and public that I was going to be with the Jets. Because of how much the city of Miami and the people of Miami mean to me, it wasn't an easy decision. It was hard to close that chapter again, and then explain it to people. I'm probably the last person on the planet that would go from Dolphins to Jets."

19. Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder called you a pretty boy and womanly and said he would be very interested in your appearance on "Hard Knocks." Jocular language of love between men or fighting words?

"I wouldn't expect anything less from him. Womanly? That doesn't get thrown around in an NFL locker room a whole lot. I talk to him once a week. As much as I'm womanly, with a little makeup and cosmetics, he watched "Dancing With The Stars" and voted for me, so he can't play tough guy. There's an abundance of ugliness in this league. I don't need to contribute to it."

20. Something you've learned that you always try to pass on to young players?

"That's a good question. So many answers. That what we do for a living is a privilege and very short-lived. Enjoy today because it might be the last one. That was painted on my wall on the dorm at Akron - carpe diem, seize the day. But there are so many for me. Believe you can and you will. Sulking won't get you anything. I'm a sore loser, but when I lose, I get back to work. It's OK to be disappointed or down. It had better bother you. If it didn't, you didn't want it that much. I don't know if it is good or bad, but this is me: The losses always hurt more than the wins feel good. I feel more pain than joy. I don't believe in obstacles, so here's another one I like: Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week."


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