Lawrence Taylor, one of the best defensive players in NFL history, retired 25 years ago. While people still reflect fondly on his playing career, the linebacker isn’t regarded highly in his post-NFL life due to some controversial activities.
Although Taylor had a brief broadcasting career post-retirement, he’s largely avoided the spotlight in recent years — except when he runs afoul of the law. Here’s a look at Taylor’s career, retirement, and life since the NFL.
Lawrence Taylor’s Hall of Fame career
Taylor — who had the nickname L.T. long before RB LaDainian Tomlinson — spent his entire 13-year career with the Giants from 1981-93. A 10-time Pro Bowler, he was a member of two Super Bowl-winning Giants teams. In 1986, he was even awarded NFL MVP by both the Associated Press and Professional Football Writers Association in 1986.
Taylor had a career-best 20.5 sacks in his MVP season. For his career, he totaled 132.5 sacks in 184 games. He had nine interceptions, and he recovered 11 fumbles. However, the linebacker’s job was to sack the quarterback, and he did it often. Precisely 25 years after he retired, L.T. still sits 14th on the all-time sack list. No active players are closer than 32 sacks away from passing him.
Lawrence’s NFL retirement
On January 15, 1994, Taylor announced his retirement during a postgame press conference (the Giants had just lost to the 49ers). On October 10, 1994, the team retired Taylor’s No. 56 jersey. In front of 77,294 Giants fans, Taylor thanked the fans for always being there for him through thick and thin. He told the fans that without them “there would’ve been a Lawrence Taylor, but there wouldn’t have been an L.T.”
Taylor continued, explaining that the honor means more to him than the Hall of Fame. He said that his jersey being retired “is probably the most important thing that has happened to me as a ballplayer.” In 1999, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, making it in his first year of eligibility.
Taylor’s post-NFL life
In 1994, Taylor served as a studio analyst for TNT’s Sunday Night Football telecasts. But he spent more time pursuing an acting career in the late ’90s and early 2000s, appearing as himself in The Sopranos and The Waterboy. He also appeared in Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday and the 2000 version of Shaft.
Taylor released his autobiography in 2004 and appeared as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars in 2009. He’s had some run-ins with the law over the last 10 years. The most serious offense occurred in 2010. That May, he was arrested and charged with having sex with a 16-year-old girl at a New York hotel. He faced several charges for that incident and was sentenced to six years of probation as part of a plea agreement.
As part of the agreement, Taylor registered as a low-risk Level 1 sex offender. More recently, he was arrested on a DUI charge for an incident where he hit a motorhome and sideswiped a police car in Florida. He avoided jail time by again pleading guilty.
Lawrence may never replicate his professional football success in his personal life. But fans will always respect his NFL legacy.