For 11 years Miami Dolphins fans watched Jason Taylor sprint off the edge, spin and take down the QB. He had some up years like the one that netted him the NFL’s Defensie MVP of the Year award. And we loved him for it. There were years that were not so good. Single digit sack numbers and hardly a presence on the field. And we stood by him and loved him. Now, it seems that Jason Taylor wants to continue his career and the team on top of that list may in fact be the New England Patriots. That, is not o.k.
Taylor has spent his years chasing down opposing QB’s and if there was one given, in any year, Tom Brady and the unstoppable Patriots always had to contend with JT. They became friends off the field, a professional bond, on the field, JT would cause Brady to verbally assault his lineman for not keeping Taylor at bay.
Over the last 6 to 8 years the one thing Dolphins fans could celebrate in an otherwise dreary decade, was the fact that we could count on Jason Taylor to wreak havoc on Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Bill Belichick has always held a public admiration for the pro-bowler often citing how disruptive JT was. His accolades never faltered. Patriot owner Bob Kraft recently commented on the situation saying that if Bill wanted JT, he would get JT and Kraft would welcome it. So yes, the Patriots would love to add the still fluid DE to their aging roster.
Fans know this is a business. The players often play for money rather than the colors of their uniform. Teams will cut an aging veteran who counts too much against the cap rather than pay the amount they agreed on years earlier and players will do the same when they feel they have played better than their contract. We know, we get it, it’s a business. But when does it become a business for the fans?
It’s the fans who pay the money to go to games, parking, Direct TV Sunday Ticket, jerseys, ball caps, football cards, and the list goes on and on. As I write this I sip my coffee from a Dolphins mug. We invest as much of our money combined as the owners of these teams do a year. Yet, we have no union. No way of asking for something in return.
Jason Taylor left last year after a disagreement with the new bosses in Miami. Again, we got it. It’s a business. Some thought it was time, some sad to see him go. I myself applauded the move that netted the team a 2nd round pick. I thought JT deserved better than a 1-15 team…I was wrong. So why does it bother me that now, a year later, a year removed, do the persistent rumors of his eventual landing in NE bother me? Simple, it’s the Patriots.
The NFL fan base has watched their lifelong idols and favorites change teams late in their careers. Joe Montana leaving SF for KC. Jerry Rice ditching SF for Oakland. The list goes on. The difference? None of them left for a division rival, not usually. I can’t remember the last time that a long standing pillar of a team, a fan favorite, a loved member of a franchise joined a division rival.
Bryan Cox? Hardly spent enough years in Miami to warrant any retribution. Bryan Cox afterall was always good with making a statement. Chad Pennington? Perhaps, yes.
Pennington was never embraced by the NY fans, the media, or the team. He was their scapegoat. He was their Achilles heel. When he was cut last year and immediately joined the Dolphins, there was no cry of traitor, there was laughter. There was “good, now he can ruin the Phins…how great is this!” That of course ended by the time CP landed in NY in week 17 and knocked his old team out of the playoffs. By then they blamed the coaches and GM for letting him go.
Jason Taylor is no longer a Washington Redskin but listen to him talk and he will tell you that he will always be a Miami Dolphin. Perhaps not so much in the eyes of many fans if he does in fact land in New England.
The Patriots offer him the best chance at a Super Bowl. The best chance at a post-season birth that has long escaped him. He is a winner and would likely have been a shoe in for the Hall of Fame if is resume’ included post-season games. So it goes without saying that the lure is very hard to resist.
Last season Miami fans watched as Bill Parcells cut ties with 12 year veteran and fan favorite Zach Thomas. Thomas visited New England and the fans were sick. “I spent 12 years facing that team 2 times a year…I couldn’t play for them.” He said. Thomas signed with Dallas a week later and fans cheered his decision. They rooted for him on the field. They hoped that the Cowboys would go deep in the playoffs…all for Zach. That didn’t happen but no one wavered on their support. That would not have been the case if Thomas was with the Pats.
Winning, money, and desire drive most NFL players. Loyalty however is a rarity. There is no loyalty by the owners, no loyalty by the players. Loyalty does exist in the NFL. It’s held by the fans who year in and year out fill the stadiums and cheer their team. Even in the bowels of the NFL where the Lions struggle to win, their stadium is full of cheering fans. It’s loyalty.
When a player says he is going to another team, we wish them well. It’s o.k. We get it. It’s a business. When a beloved player leaves for a division rival, well, that’s not about money, that’s all about egotistically trying to buy yourself a Championship. It’s selfish. We are taught growing up that winning isn’t everything. We learn about teamwork, pride, and selflessness.
Jason Taylor has a tough decision to make. Go for it all with the Patriots and risk alienating the one true base of supporters that he has always had, or go to another team where he may have to work a little harder to reach those goals. It’s his call, his decision, but it’s not business anymore so don’t try and convince us that it is. It’s not, not to the fans.