Jason Taylor is a picture of the toughness of NFL talent. Entering the league from the University of Akron, a small school without much football history, Taylor went from a third-round draft pick to a defensive star. Despite several injuries, he always found a way back to the field. Despite this, one fear haunts Taylor to this day.
Jason Taylor’s NFL career
Taylor was never a surefire success in the NFL. Coming to the Miami Dolphins near Dan Marino’s legendary career, Taylor had to work his way onto the field. He spent four years at Akron, but the teams rarely made a splash when it came to wins. Now in Miami, however, Taylor hoped to show he could hang with the big boys
It took him a few years to go from reliable bench presence to All-Pro player, but when he took that leap to stardom, the Dolphins were all the better for it. Taylor became the face of the Dolphins as they tried and often failed to cope with the retirement of their franchise quarterback. Still, the defense was always a factor in the other team’s pain when Taylor took the field.
By the time Taylor retired from the NFL, he had a solid case for the Hall of Fame. He wasn’t just a good linebacker, but a leader in the Dolphins locker room. The one thing he missed was a Super Bowl. In the end, Taylor was rewarded for his contributions with an induction into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2017. Despite the punishment he took in the NFL, he remains one of the best defensive players in history.
Taylor plays through it all
Taylor made a name for himself punishing the other team. But the person who got the bulk of the punishment may have been himself. Throughout his career, reports NPR, Taylor suffered from a plethora of injuries that, on their own, might have taken out many NFL players. The roster of injuries was deep.
During his career, Taylor played through a bad back, broken forearm, dislocated fingers, broken collarbone, sprained MCL, and perhaps most gruesomely, torn plantar fascias in both feet. One injury to Taylor’s left leg caused the blood to compartmentalize and led to nerve damage. However, to recover from these injuries, Taylor had to face his biggest fear of them all: needles.
Taylor’s biggest fear
Despite all the pain that Taylor suffered throughout his career, what bothers him most has less to do with the injuries themselves and more to do with the treatments. For all of his lingering scars from a life in football, rehabilitation became part of his normal routine. However, it was the needles that brought him the most pain.
“I didn’t practice a whole lot,” Taylor told the Miami Herald. “I got like six epidurals that season. My wife would take me on Tuesday to get the shot. I’d lay around Wednesday and not practice. Not practice on Thursday. Then I’d move around a little at practice Friday and then go to the game. On Monday you felt like you got hit by a school bus. And then I’d start the process over again. And hopefully, the epidural would last two weeks.”
To cope with this, Taylor started a ritual that helped distract him from the needles that were plunged into his arm.
“I’m scared of needles,” he said. “I’m the biggest wuss in the world. Every needle I’d get at work for 15 years, I’d bite a towel. I couldn’t do it. That’s one thing I don’t miss about playing in the NFL.”
Taylor is now a retired Hall of Famer who is getting ready to coach his sons in the sport that made him famous. His candid speeches about his injuries show that deep down inside, even the toughest NFL players have the same phobias as the average person.