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In good and in evil: Lawrence Taylor (part one)

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Published on Feb 04, 2017

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Today is the birthday of Lawrence Taylor. To understand the player and the man we went deep. Here is the first part of his portrait. For the second, we could not find a best date to tomorrow, the day of the Super Bowl for THEM.

Outside of victory in a Super Bowl, the withdrawal of the jersey is perhaps the most cherished goal for a player. It is an individual success, but its foundations are built on years of hard work with the team and for the team. It means that that player has done so much for his own uniform to deserve to be consigned to posterity. Usually the withdrawal of the jersey goes hand in hand with entry into the Hall of Fame, the museum of Canton, which houses the remains of those who have left their mark in the history of the National Football League.

The ceremony of the retreat usually takes place during the interval of a match in the internal championship, preferably with direct TV, better with a beautiful corollary of former teammates and coaches as guests. The protagonist should simply relax and understand that he has got the highest award possible, after a life spent for the cause, after the beatings, injuries, fatigue, defeats, and victories; he must understand that this moment is his and his alone, that all those people on the lawn and in the stands are there to remember him and that many, him first, will be satisfied too, even hold back the tears. In those ten minutes, the world at his feet, and his city, and his team are there to applaud him and he's at the center of the scene, probably for the last time. Of course, thank all the companions, those that were blocking for him, those who shared the effort and glory every Sunday: but can afford a dose of imperial self-centeredness, because in that moment the light is turned on on him.

Probably all these thoughts are passed also in the head of Phil Simms, now known commentator, the great quarterback of the New York Giants in the Eighties. On September 4, 1995, his team decided to pay him this honour, during the interval of the match against the Cowboys. His jersey number 11 was not going to be worn by a player of the Giants. Once more and for the last time, that was his moment. What can induce a player to move the spotlight on an occasion of that kind? The possible answers are two: or anything in the world, or someone that during his career he has done a parallel path and had aroused in him a feeling that, friendship or enmity, could not be cancelled: if someone asks you to share the lights of his prominence, the reason must be very strong.

Before saying goodbye to all of you, I want to complete a last step.
I ask to get me from the receiver to the greatest player ever to wear the jersey of the New York Giants.
This is the step for Lawrence Taylor.

Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor

Understanding Lawrence Taylor is a firm-trivial. We need to look at definitely two aspects that are not easy to harmonize: the player and the person. Starting from the player, it is necessary to pause a little to analyse the context, i.e. what was happening in his patch of the field before and after his appearance on the fields of the NFL.

At the end of the Seventies, the league had recently revised the rules on pass interference and the use of the hands in the blocks (the curious can see here). The stated objective was to encourage the attacks to put the ball in the air, in the name of the show. The result obtained was encouraging, even though we were far away from the systems that are offensive today, in which often it is not even expected to figure in the fullback, the receivers in the field are usually the three, and the tight end is increasingly becoming a receiver big. Nothing of all this.

The teams the girls were beginning to pass from The formation (fullback and tailback aligned behind the QB) to the Pro Set (the two runner behind the QB, one right and one left, five or six yards behind the line). These alignments were leaving, however, the defence in doubt travel-step. The tight end (Kellen Winslow) was mainly an extra blocker, the positioning of the usually betrayed the side from which it ran. The receivers on the field were two: the flanker on the same side of the tight end and the split end on the opposite side. The shotgun was synonymous with the launch, it's safe, and it was rare to see it used for more than a dozen games in the match, while today it is used almost systematic and does not provide specific clues about the action. With regard to the defense, that was the golden period of the 3-4. The linebackers were very often induced to read the action and then react, were rarely able to dictate their time on the attack, and the blitz was run sparingly, to avoid that, to name one, the first Joe Montana's turn could take a step forward too and the serving of a runner that had a ten-yard free in front of him.

In the situation of launching full-blown, usually a blitz for the internal lines were managed from the center and guards, one for the external lines from the tight end, if you did not go out to receive, or even to be a halfback or a fullback, that could compete on par with a linebacker and defensive back.

That is, until the first round of draft of 1981, the New York Giants with no call.2 absolute Lawrence Taylor, the outside linebacker from North Carolina Tar Heels.

Lawrence Taylor jersey the Tar Heels

The reputation of Taylor during his time at university he was already very bulky, so much so that the majority of the employees had a reasonable certainty that the phenomenal linebacker would have been called with the no.1 absolute. However, the New Orleans Saints, perhaps for cultural heritage, decided to call the runner winner of the Heisman Trophy, George Rogers from South Carolina. Would have got to understand that that choice probably wasn't the best.

At that time, the coach of the defense in New York was Bill Parcells, one of the best football mind of that period. The relationship with the young linebacker was not easy, but Parcells understood the potential and the enormous number 56 and immediately worked on the motivation, on the edges and on the character of the player. He realized that the idea of winning with one so had to put it in condition to be himself.

What I had to do was allow him to blossom
(Bill Parcells)

The debut against the Philadelphia Eagles was quite anonymous, but a few games later, against the Cardinals, Taylor placed a sack devastating in a scheme in which he would have had the tasks of coverage. He did note that what he did was not even in the playbook and he replied immediately

Then mettiamocelo, because it is really dandy

In essence what had happened was that a linebacker freshman had just decided that that would be the revolution in the pass rush in the years to come: while the tackle left was engaged with the tight end, Taylor came in the backfield, was the blocking back as a plasterboard wall and came straight at full speed on the quarterback that she had not even seen, and for soprammercato was right-handed, then stood and turned his back.

Let us pause for a moment, you have to put some point still, because to say that a linebacker freshman was changing the perception of the pass rush might seem like a statement at least ill-considered. Let's try to understand what was happening: it was just facing in the professionals, an outside linebacker, built like a defensive end (1.91 to 114 kg) and fast as a safety. And his coach was going to tell him simply that if he saw fit he could focus on going for the ball, running or throwing, that was, because he understood that the player, physically and athletically privileged, had for the ball-the same instinct that a shark could have for the blood.

From that moment on, things would not be the same for anyone, not even to the same Giants, who came from years of mediocrity to absolute.

Of course, LT wasn't a self-centered nor a fool. When he had to stay in pass coverage, he did pretty well, had a base speed that allowed him to keep the comparison with every tight end of the period. When he had to stay home to wait for the development of the action he knew to do it with tenacity and discipline. But her improvised practically had done law at Bill Parcells. His defensive coordinator, who would soon take the place of Ray Perkins as head coach, he had understood that the use of a player so in that way, the risk was to really change the perspective of the game to the opponents attacks. In the vocabulary of the offensive coordinator of that period, in short, made its appearance in the idiom to gameplan for LT, asciugabile in you must not lose sight ever, for any reason.

A stamp on the card, a way

Very soon all his rivals, in and out of the NFC Eastern Division of the time, familiarizzarono with the concept that this guy was not a lockable one-on-one in the way in which conventionally had been done up to that moment. Too fastest of the offensive tackle of the era, too most powerful of the tight end and runner.

The only coach that year she managed to solve the rebus was the immense Bill Walsh, who came to understand that in one way or another, Taylor could be managed physically only by a lineman that big and fast

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