Today, Jason Taylor will be arrive at the training center for the first time this off-season. He will not skip training camp and we will now see if he is in as good of shape as he has been saying since “Dancing With the Stars” ended. Unfortunately, he will not be arriving at Miami’s training center. In a flurry of activity yesterday that culminated in an agreement between the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins, Jason Taylor will report today wearing burgundy and Gold. The Jason Taylor era, and the off-season saga has finally come to an end.
Jason Taylor leaves the Dolphins after 11 seasons. He has been the NFL Defensive Player of the year, 2 years ago, and the NFL Man of the Year, last year. While his talents on the field made fans rave and cheer, his activities off the field in the community made him an Icon. His longevity on a team that seemed to transition from year to year exemplified his character and importance to the fabric that bound a team.
Last year, Jason Taylor quit. Plain and simple. Make no mistake, I have always been a Jason Taylor fan. In fact, he was the last player that I knelt down in front of the TV during an April draft and begged to be drafted by Miami…that actually was. Still, last year, JT quit. He quit on himself, he quit on his team, and he quit on the fans. You could see it in his game. Sure there were quarters that he played well, but the tone of his leadership was much quieter and softer spoken, sometimes it was not there at all. Unless of course he was verbally sparring with then HC Cam Cameron.
The rift between Cam Cameron was similar to the one that JT displayed early on in the reign of Nick Saban. Outspoken against the change, Taylor refused to embrace the HC. It was Saban who quelled his worries. Cam Cameron did not and the two ended up battling each other more than they did the opposing teams. A trend for Taylor that would continue with yet another change in the offices as he began the silent quest for a trade while not speaking with new football guy Bill Parcells.
In a statement released by the team, Jason Taylor spoke of being a Dolphins fan now instead of a player.
“As you might imagine, this is a bit overwhelming right now and I probably need a little time to digest it all,” Taylor, who has played for nobody else but the Dolphins, said. “I love Miami, will always cherish my 11 years with the Dolphins and can’t thank Mr. Huizenga, Bryan Wiedmeier and countless coaches and teammates enough for what they have all done. I will be a Dolphins fan now and wish them the best.”
He followed those words with a more stinging announcement and a questionable one. Speaking of Tony Sparano, one can’t help but wonder the sincerity of Jason’s remarks, speaking of the Redskins almost makes you sick.
“Tony Sparano is great and I know I would have enjoyed working with him,” Taylor said. “And what can I say about the fans? This town has been supportive beyond belief, through good times and bad and I wish I could thank everyone personally. Having said that, I’m looking forward to meeting with Mr. Snyder and getting to know my new coaches and teammates. I’m just proud to be representing our nation’s capital as a Redskin.”
Taylor will walk away from Miami with 117 sacks and 100 in this decade alone, leading the NFL in that time frame. He had also added 7 touchdowns to his resume. While it still is unclear whether Jason Taylor will ever find his bust in the Hall of Fame, it is clear that any final push in stats will be done for someone else.
“We acquired a perennial Pro Bowl player and one of the NFL’s top pass rushers,” Redskins executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato told Redskins.com. “He is a great leader who will fit in very well with our team. We feel that Jason is a great addition on the field as well as off the field.
“He is a play-maker who can do so many different things for us on defense.”
Jason Taylor will also find that while he lines up with faces he is not familiar with, one face he is will sit across from him twice a year. Zach Thomas. Playing in the same division but on opposite teams, Taylor and Thomas will finish their careers against each other rather than side by side. Perhaps not a very fitting ending to two of the Miami fans’ favorite players.
The loss of JT and ZT put an end to the past. Not a simple good-bye end but a rather large exclamation mark. While Yeremiah Bell now becomes the longest tenured drafted Dolphin, the list is rather thin prior to the 2004 campaign. The team, the Miami Dolphins team, has finally taken the last step toward total rebuild. It has cut the ties with one of it’s favorite personalities and players. In fact, it’s best player.
“Like Mr. Huizenga, I also would like to thank Jason for his contributions to the Dolphins,” Ireland said. “He has been a valued member of this organization and we appreciate all he has done both on and off the field. We wish him the best in Washington.” Said General Manager Jeff Ireland.
There will be an odd sight on the field this year with a gaping hole on defense left by the departures of Miami’s two favorites. Leaving with them however, is a history that had long ago turned from winning tradition to cellar dwelling. So raise your glass and make a toast to two of the finest football players Miami has employed, then raise it again and toast what we hope will be a much brighter future without them.
“I want to thank Jason for all of his contributions to the Dolphins and to South Florida,” said Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga, “Ever since he joined the team as a rookie he has been outstanding on the field and a leader in our community. Whether it was his intensity between the lines or his commitment to his charitable works, he made a lasting impact here. I will miss Jason, and on behalf of the entire Dolphins organization I want to wish him the best of success with the Redskins.”