David Moulton: Jason Taylor, and Dolphins fans, have deserved better these last few years

DAVID MOULTON
David Moulton

David Moulton

He is the last link.

The last current Dolphin to play with Dan Marino, who played for Don Shula when the Miami Dolphins were NFL royalty.

Jason Taylor is the last link to a time when the Dolphins were consistently good even if they never became great. The first seven years of Taylor’s career were all winning ones: 9-7, 10-6, 9-7, 11-5, 11-5, 9-7 and 10-6. Those first five seasons (1997-2001) he helped lead the Fins to the playoffs every time. A place they have returned only once.

Oh, what Fins fans wouldn’t give to be teased by those Jimmie Johnson/Dave Wannstedt teams again.

Jason Taylor is all that remains from a time when Dolfans had faith that their organization could be smarter than the others. That a skinny third-round pick from the University of Akron really was the next Charles Haley.

And after Sunday he is gone. Taylor is retiring at age 37 as one of the greatest Dolphins defensive players ever. He played the second most games (204) in Miami Dolphins history (Marino leads with 242). Jason is sixth on the NFL’s all-time sacks list with 139.5. A six-time Pro Bowler, five-time All-Pro and once the NFL’s defensive player of the year.

But for as glorious as the start to his career was and the résumé reads, the last half of Jason Taylor’s ride in Miami was a rough one. He was in his prime from 2004-07 yet the team fell apart around him. Four years playing for four different coaches. The last of those lost seasons was 1-15.

Then it got ugly and personal.

In came Bill Parcells, who traded the recent Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year because he couldn’t make all the offseason workouts. Taylor was crushed.

Despite the slap in the face he crawled back to the Dolphins the very next year because he didn’t want to play anywhere else. A year later Miami didn’t want him again because his presence in the lockerroom was “too big.”

Taylor knew he could still play. To the point where he signed with the one team he vowed he would “never” play for, the hated Jets. Ironically it was in New York where Jason came closest to the Super Bowl, losing last year’s AFC championship game in his hometown of Pittsburgh.

The Jets wanted him back but Taylor still wanted to be in Miami. Here he is at 37, second on the team in sacks. No. 99 has more sacks on his way out the door than four high draft picks by this current regime who twice wanted no part of him.

Jason Taylor should have played his entire career with the Dolphins. Because, after No. 13, he was the Miami Dolphins.

Taylor’s charitable foundation in Miami has raised millions. He frequently has visited the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It should not have ended with him playing his final six seasons on teams that combined are 32-63 heading into his finale against the Jets.

There will be future Sunday celebrations where Jason Taylor has his No. 99 retired as he takes his rightful place in the teams’ Honor Roll. There is likely to be a yellow Hall of Fame blazer waiting for him in Canton, Ohio, just minutes from where he played his college ball.

Yet on this final Sunday of a great warrior’s career, there is more irony than celebration. Because Jason Taylor and Dolphins fans have more of a connection than ever these days. They both have given far more than they’ve received and certainly given far less than they deserve.

Hopefully there is one more sack, so No. 99 and the fans can embrace a final time.

David Moulton is a freelance writer and co-host of “Miller and Moulton in the Afternoon,” which airs weekdays 2 to 7 p.m. on WWCN/AM 770 ESPN. His column runs Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features