Dolphins draft memory: Jason Taylor was the guy I wanted

Jason Taylor is inducted into the Pro-Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Oh. - Image by Brian Miller
Jason Taylor is inducted into the Pro-Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Oh. - Image by Brian Miller /

When Jimmy Johnson replaced Don Shula as head coach I wasn’t one of those who thought it was time for a change but I was thrilled when he drafted Jason Taylor. This is my Dolphins draft memory.

For the purpose of this draft day memory, we can forget about what Taylor did in his NFL career. It stands on its own. What he accomplished was incredible and the fact that he entered the Hall of Fame on his first year of eligibility was icing on the cake. No this is about a draft day memory.

Parts of my family live in the Cleveland, Ohio area and as such it wasn’t uncommon to sit around and see Akron play on Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t a fan of the team but I didn’t dislike them either. I was a Michigan and a Miami U fan.

Over the years however I got to watch the scrawny kid from Akron play and I liked what I saw. There was a fire to his approach and when I would see him talk on the news later, a rare interview that I might catch, he impressed me.

On draft day 1997 I set up on the couch with a stack of papers with college names written everywhere. Red ink marks noted the players I wanted Miami to draft. Long before mock drafts and the internet I had my own mock and Jason Taylor was my pick with the Dolphins first round choice.

When Jimmy Johnson selected Yatil Green I wasn’t thrilled but when Jason Taylor was still on the board in round two, the Green pick was suddenly o.k. Then the Dolphins drafted Sam Madison and I was throwing papers across the room. Sam Madison? Really? He was on my list but he didn’t have a red dot next to his name.

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When the Dolphins were on the clock in round three Taylor was still on the board. My chest hurt. I was tense. How could anyone pass on Jason Taylor? He wasn’t a prototype but he was good. He could fit into the Dolphins defense and was mobile. I already wasn’t a fan of Jimmy Johnson for replacing Don Shula and he was about to make me hate him more.

Johnson and the other teams had already passed on Taylor twice this was it though. Taylor would be there in round four. When they announced the Dolphins pick I sat on the couches edge. Fingers clenched together, knuckles white. And I heard his name.

I pounded my fists, yelled in amazement. The one player I wanted more than any other was now a Miami Dolphin. Suddenly Jimmy Johnson was my hero.

Sam Madison turned out to be o.k., I kid of course. Madison is to this day one of my favorite all-time Miami Dolphins players but Taylor was my guy long before the draft started. The fact he went on to have a Hall of Fame career, something I got to witness first hand, was amazing. A trip to Canton to watch it and an invitation to his private after party brought the memories of that draft day back full circle.

As fans we don’t always get the players we want and sometimes we wish we would could take it back when they don’t work out. In the case of Jason Taylor, everything worked out just fine.

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