Jason Taylor Nearly Lost His Leg in the Worst Season of His NFL Career

Jason Taylor had a Hall of Fame career, with the majority of his success coming with the Miami Dolphins. Unfortunately for the defensive end/outside linebacker, he had a couple of stops in the NFL other than Miami.

One of his non-Dolphins seasons resulted in Taylor having the worst season of his prolific career. The year was so bad that he almost lost his leg. Here are the details of Taylor’s 2008 season in the nation’s capital.

Jason Taylor’s Dolphins career

Normally with the 73rd overall pick in the NFL draft, a team hopes the player will become a star but doesn’t necessarily have high expectations. Sometimes it works out well for the team, like when the Dolphins took Taylor at No. 73 in 1997. He played 13 seasons with the team in three different stints.

With the Dolphins, Tayor played in 204 games and totaled 723 tackles, including 137 for a loss. He sacked opposing quarterbacks 131 times. He forced 43 fumbles and recovered fumbles on 27 occasions, getting in the end zone six of those times. Tayor also had eight interceptions, scoring on three.

The Akron alum was named to the All-Rookie Team in 1997. Taylor was the 2006 AP Defensive Player of the Year and made six Pro Bowls. He led the league with 18.5 sacks in 2002. His biggest disappointment during his Dolphins tenure was making the postseason just four times and never making it past the divisional round with Miami.

Taylor’s 2008 trade to the Redskins

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The Dolphins traded Taylor to the Redskins in July 2008 for two draft picks, a second-rounder in 2009, and a sixth-round pick in 2010. Taylor considers the trade to be one of the biggest challenges of his football career. He spent one season with Washington, which he called “miserable” and said in an interview with the Miami Herald “Washington was hell.”

The Dolphins appeared to have Taylor on the trade block that offseason, with head coach Tony Sparano announcing in mid-May that Taylor wasn’t expected to take part in any team activities through training camp. The timing of that announcement was eerie as it came about a month after the Dolphins drafted two possible replacements for Taylor.

Meanwhile, soon after training camp started in July the Redskins lost two defenders to season-ending injuries. That opened up a need for them to add someone on that side of the ball, and Taylor was available. Vinny Cerrato, Washington’s executive vice president at the time, was quick to pounce on a Taylor deal, expressing his feeling that the team was “fortunate there was a guy that caliber on the market when somebody got hurt.”

Taylor almost loses his leg

Washington Redskins' Jason Taylor
Jason Taylor of the Washington Redskins in 2008 | Al Bello/Getty Images

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A bad season was almost disastrous for Taylor, who almost lost a leg in a Redskins uniform. It happened when he got kicked in the shin during practice. The Hall of Famer recalls he was an hour away from needing the leg to get amputated. “I had compartment syndrome, which is basically internal bleeding in your lower leg. Cavities in your leg basically fill up with blood and start pressing on your nerves.”

Taylor thought it was a normal leg injury until it kept swelling and getting worse. By 2 a.m., he couldn’t take the pain anymore and called the trainer. He went to the hospital, where they discovered the blood pressure in his leg, which should be between 15 and 25, was in triple digits and rising.

Taylor initially resisted surgery, but he eventually relented and had the surgery. If he waited much longer, the leg would have been taken off. To add insult to injury, the Redskins — considered playoff contenders that season — missed the playoffs at 8-8, and the 11-5 Dolphins made it for the first time since 2001.