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NEW YORK (WFAN) — Lawrence Taylor revolutionized the linebacker position in the NFL.
He was that good.
Taylor joined the Giants at a time when the team desperately needed star power. New York had missed the playoffs 17 straight seasons before selecting Taylor No. 2 overall in the 1981 draft out of North Carolina.
That move, which coincided with Bill Parcells joining the franchise as defensive coordinator, laid the groundwork for Big Blue’s eventual success. The Giants made the playoffs in Taylor’s rookie season, with the menacing linebacker winning both Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Parcells was elevated to head coach in 1983, and by that time Taylor had established himself as by far the best linebacker in the NFL, striking fear into the hearts of opponents as an incredible pass rusher with the athleticism to stop the run and be a force in pass coverage.
Taylor, Parcells and the Giants went on to make the playoffs in 1984 and ’85, winning a round each year before finally taking home the first Super Bowl title in franchise history in 1986. For his efforts that season, which included a career-high 20½ sacks, Taylor was named NFL Most Valuable Player.
He also played a huge role in the Giants’ second Super Bowl crown in 1990, and finished his 13-year career as a 10-time Pro Bowler and three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Along the way, he recorded 132½ sacks and well over 1,000 tackles.
Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.