WASHINGTON — On Saturday night, former NFL defensive end and longtime Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Taylor finished his career with 139.5 sacks over 15 seasons in the NFL. One of those seasons, 2008, and 3.5 of those sacks were collected as a member of the Washington Redskins. And Taylor had a thank you, of sorts, for the Redskins during his induction speech:
“Dan Snyder, I had a good talk with Dan last night. Thank you for the opportunity to come to Washington. I know I didn’t give you much, 2½ sacks,” Taylor said, apparently forgetting that extra sack. “Stole a lot of money from you, but I appreciate it. Hey, I’m just being honest, alright?”
Evidently, Taylor ran into the Redskins owner at a party hosted by Jerry Jones the night before the ceremony.
“Redskins owner at the Cowboys party, me feeling awkward because I stole so much money from Dan,” Taylor continued. “But he was very gracious, and Dan Snyder, thank you so much for what you did for my family.”
In total, Taylor played for $8 million in 2008, a drop in the bucket for Snyder. What Taylor really did was steal money from Redskins fans.
It was the beginning of training camp and defensive end Phillip Daniels was lost for the season with a knee injury suffered during 7-on-7 drills. Taylor, a six-time Pro Bowler, was on the outs in Miami after feuding with Dolphins personnel czar Bill Parcells. The latter got off on the wrong foot with Taylor and did not appreciate his off the field interests, including Dancing with the Stars.
A trade was in order, and the Redskins paid a substantial price: a second-round pick in 2009 and a sixth-round pick in 2010.
Coming off of four consecutive Pro Bowls, Taylor’s arrival was hailed in Washington, and his jersey sales cracked the NFL’s top-25 that August. There were lots of burgundy and gold No. 55’s to welcome the newcomer to FedExField.
He repaid that fan support with the second worst season of his career (2.5 sacks in 1999) and worst since developing the inside pass rush that would define his career. Sure, Taylor played through injuries (some of them truly terrifying), but he contributed little as far as production (21 total tackles) or presence in his 13 games with the team. Between 2007 and 2008, the Redskins’ sack totals dipped from 16th to 28th in the NFL, while improving in many other areas.
He was an expensive non-factor, though not necessarily through many faults of his own. The key is that he could atone in his second season with the team.
Before the 2009 league year began, the Redskins wanted to rework his $8.5 salary, converting some of the money to a workout bonus. Their asking price was for him to participate in 75 percent of the offseason workouts with the team. Taylor and his agent balked, knowing that it would get him cut. His reason for not accepting: “He wanted to spend the offseason with his family.”
The same family he thanked Snyder for helping.
He was released from the team and returned to the Dolphins in 2009, doubling his sack production. That had to feel good for every fan with a No. 55 Redskins jersey in the back of his or her closet.
It’s fine that Taylor, who spent 13 of 15 seasons in Miami, went into the Hall of Fame as a Dolphin. It’s fine that Taylor feels guilty about underperforming in his one season in Washington. But making a joke about stealing money from the owner ignores that fact that he let down a starving fan base that was excited about his arrival.
Instead of buying into the team, he was just another big-name, big-time bust who cashed his checks and skipped town.
Hey, I’m just being honest, alright?