Giants: Lawrence Taylor named to NFL’s All-Time Team

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New York Giants Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor was named to the NFL’s All-Time Team on Friday night, cored unanimously by a panel of 26 historians and experts.

As part of the league’s 100th Anniversary, the panel will reveal the team position by position through Week 17 of the regular season. On Friday night, they unveiled the finalists at defensive line and linebackers. A formidable bunch if there ever was one:

DEFENSIVE END (7): Doug Atkins, Bill Hewitt, Deacon Jones*, Gino Marchetti*, Lee Roy Selmon, Bruce Smith, Reggie White.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE (7): Buck Buchanan, Joe Greene, Bob Lilly*, Merlin Olsen, Alan Page*, John Randle, Randy White.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (6): Chuck Bednarik, Bobby Bell, Derrick Brooks, Jack Ham, Ted Hendricks, Lawrence Taylor*.

MIDDLE LINEBACKER (6): Dick Butkus*, Jack Lambert, Willie Lanier, Ray Lewis, Joe Schmidt, Junior Seau.

*Denotes unanimous selection.

Taylor was the only New York Giant selected to the group. The Giants had four other semifinalists in the running: linebackers Sam Huff and Harry Carson and defensive ends Michael Strahan and Andy Robustelli.  All five are Pro Football Hall of Famers.

Fennelly: Quite simply the best player I ever personally saw play in my 50-plus years of watching football. There were others who were close – Jerry Rice and Walter Payton to name a few – but Taylor defined what a defensive player could be.  He was named NFL MVP in 1986, one of only two defensive players to ever have that honor bestowed on them. (Minnesota’s Alan Page was the other in 1971).

From the NFL Network:

Lawrence Taylor (1981-1993)

1999 Pro Football Hall of FameInductee… Two-time Super BowlChampion… Redefined the way OLB position was played… One of only two defensive players ever to win NFL MVP award when he led NFL with career-high 20.5 sacks in 1986… Three-time NFL Defensive Player of Year, 1981-1982, 1986… Made Pro Bowl in each of 1st 10 NFL seasons, 1981-1990… 1st-team All-Pro in eight of 1st nine seasons… Great intensity, speed, strength fueled attack style… Posted 132.5 career sacks, 2nd-most in NFL at time of retirement… Named to NFL’s All-Decade Team for 1980s… Selected by the New York Giants as the 1st round pick (2nd overall) in the 1981 NFL Draft… Born February 4, 1959, in Williamsburg, VA.

Bill Belichick: “Well, I think I had the honor of coaching the greatest defensive football player in the history of the game. He helped make me a great coach. …LT’s rookie year, I mean, this guy could do it all, OK? Offense, defense, special teams, wherever you wanted him to play, he would have been a great two-way player if he had played in the two-way era.”

Ray Lewis: “In 1986, I was 11 years old and my grandfather said, I want you to watch somebody, and I’m sitting there, and this TV comes on and it’s LT. It was a stream of four, five, six plays where I didn’t care about watching nobody else but actually watching his impact on hitting other men. And I’m watching this time after time again and now because I understand the science of it I’m watching you do this and I’m like they don’t want this fight.”

Taylor: “I got that mentality from my father. My father used to tell me, ‘You have to be better than the next man just to be equal.’ I’m proud, I’m happy, I’m content with the actions that I had on the football field. …I’ve been very fortunate to have some great coaching and even though I may not listen in meetings, I do listen on game day.”