LT continues living a lie and Raiders admit Russell mistake

Was looking through some of the sports headlines yesterday and couldn’t
help but comment on a couple of them. None of them came as a surprise to
me but I was a little surprised after researching one of the stories a
little further.

NFL HOFer Lawrence Taylor has been charged with
raping a 16-year-old prostitute. What a shocker. While I don’t want to
get too far ahead of myself by assuming he’s guilty until the legal
process runs its course, but anybody see this playing out well for one
of the best defensive players the NFL has ever seen? I don’t. LT2.jpg

I found it interesting that in his statement given to police at the
hotel where the incident took place, LT admitted he had sex with the
girl and admitted he paid $300 for her time. I was then surprised to see
LT’s lawyer Arther Aidala on an video declaring that his
client was only in town to work and to play some golf with friends.
During Aidala’s emphatic declaration of innocence he may have dug his
client into a deeper hole by stating the following: “Lawrence Taylor did
not have consensual sex with anybody last night.” So then he did rape
her, counselor? I’m confused. Ooops. Apparently LT spent all his money
on the hooker and didn’t have enough left to hire a competent defense

While I’d bet my entire collection that LT will eventually be found
guilty of the charges, I’ll save further comment until more facts are
made public. Until then, I can’t help but remember my only meeting with
the Hall of Famer back in 2004 at an autograph show in Chicago. I was
doing interviews with many of the NFL legends on hand that day including
Mike Ditka, Deacon Jones, Bart Starr and others, and because our
publication was affiliated with the show, I was granted access to the
back room where the former players were hanging out and pre-signing
memorabilia items.

After finishing my interview with Ditka, I headed over to where LT was
signing some helmets and politely asked him if I could ask him a few
questions about the show and his post-NFL career. After looking up
briefly to make sure he wasn’t in the presence of Bob Costas, Al
Michaels or anybody else worthy of his time, LT blew off the interview
opportunity with a couple of rude comments before wiping his sweaty
brow. Back in my college days I used to hang around with a crowd that
used to partake in some of the same demons that LT has been fighting
throughout his life and all of the symptoms associated with those demons
were on display for any knowing eye to see. The dilated pupils, the
non-stop movement and a level of perspiration typically found at a
crowded night club. And while it was a summer show, we were located in a
well air-conditioned hotel banquet hall in the middle of the day on a
Sunday afternoon. Because of my college buddy’s history with the powdery
white stuff, it was clear that despite his claim of being clean and
sober for more than five years at the time, LT appeared anything but.

He briefly shot the breeze with the other legendary players on hand that
day but it was clear to me that despite his impressive on-field
credentials, this Hall of Shamer didn’t deserve to be mentioned in the
same breath as the other true legends. Lawrence Taylor has gotten the benefit of the doubt and then
some ever since his career ended in 1993. You hear LT apologists
electing to turn a blind eye to his numerous off-field incidents instead
focusing on his amazing on-field achievements, but I’ll stick with my
mantra of calling things as I see them. And in this case, all I see is a
self-absorbed former athlete who can’t seem to gain control of his
life. A guy who will stare you straight in the eye and knock out lie
after lie in much the same way that he did with quarterbacks back in his
hey day.

The day he blew off my interview request I left wondering if I was
worthy of his time and I questioned my journalistic professionalism and
experience. But after all I’ve learned about him since that
bubble-bursting day, I’m kind of glad things worked out the way they

After hearing the Raiders cut ties with former No. 1 pick JaMarcus
Russell, my first thought was “What took you so long?” But upon further
review, I understand why Oakland hadn’t cut bait sooner. When you’ve
already locked up a player and guaranteed him close to $40 million
dollars, I guess your margin for error gets a little larger and a team’s
ability to simply cut bait and admit its mistake becomes almost
impossible. It’s handcuff city and you’re forced to continue to trot the
horse out to the track knowing he’s destined for an also-ran
performance  We all saw the Russell Experiment the last few years and
the Raiders continued to roll him out there hoping he would one day
revert to the slightly above-average quarterback he was in college, but
it never came to fruition.

If you look back to Russell’s collegiate career at LSU, other than his
6-5 frame and above-average arm strength, I’m not sure what other
characteristics made the Raiders believe he warranted the top spot in
the draft in the first place. He never seemed to be capable of
understanding an NFL system, his work ethic has always been a question
mark and other than his incredible ability to throw a football 65 yards
from his knees, I was never really clear on what all the excitement was
about. Unfortunately for Russell and the Raiders his most-impressive
quality meant very little considering that you can throw a ball a mile
from your knees but it doesn’t matter because the play has already been
whistled dead. In addition to his above-the-neck issues, laziness and continual weight-loss problems, Russell never seemed to want to do what
it takes to improve. And when you’re being paid that type of money,
effort shouldn’t be an issue. Biggest bust in NFL history keeps coming
up in Russell discussions and I can’t find any reason to dispute that

If misery loves company, then Russell should feel OK when comparing his
first three years to those of his fellow 2007 Draft selections. Consider
that fellow top-10 picks like (No. 4) Gaines Adams never amounted to
much before his passing last year, (No. 5) Levi Brown has yet to sniff a
Pro Bowl, (No. 6) LaRon Landry was in danger of losing his starting job
last season, (No. 8) Jamaal Anderson has yet to have any type of impact
for on the Falcons defense, (No. 9) Ted Ginn Jr. has displayed several
flashes but several more disappearing acts and (No. 10) has had the
“Bust” label thrown his way many times in Houston. While standouts like
Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Joe Thomas and Patrick Willis have
become the headliners of the 2007 Draft class, their careers, however
impressive they ultimately become, will likely always be more associated
with the “Year of the Buster” guys that currently define it.


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