The Miami Dolphins closed
out an unfulfilled chapter in its history by trading disgruntled DE Jason
Taylor to the Washington Redskins for a 2009 second round pick and a 2010 sixth
Taylor wanted out of Miami
in the worst way, and took every opportunity to remind Bill Parcells of his
desire to leave. Parcells was willing to accommodate Taylor, but only at the right price.
Until last Sunday, it seemed
unlikely that the Dolphins would receive a proper offer. Then, as it often does
in the NFL, the unlikely became reality. The Redskins, harboring championship
aspirations, lost star DE Phillip Daniels to a knee injury. Redskins Executive
Vice President of Football Operations Vinny Cerrato immediately called
Parcells. Within hours, they had a deal.
On one hand, the Dolphins and
consider themselves fortunate.
The Dolphins got their
price, a very good price, and got it before Taylor would have reported to camp as we now know
he intended to. They avoided the media circus, the distraction, and the risk of
injury to their best player.
Taylor got what he wanted, a chance to win a championship
with a team that, on paper, is closer. If Daniels hadn’t been injured, there
was a chance that Taylor
would have been on the roster up to the trade deadline (around Week 6), and
maybe beyond. He didn’t want that.
As for the fans, some of
them anyway, they are pleased to know that more draft picks are loaded into the
re-building plan, the wise use of which could bring the future closer, sooner.
Even old friend Bill
Belichick is happy, no longer having to worry about #99 breaking Tom Brady in
However, there is another
side to all this; the sad reality that the Dolphins have fallen so far down
that great players no longer wish to be associated with the team. Such things
happen to other clubs, not the Miami Dolphins.
Consider Taylor’s departure the final consequence of
2007. Dolfans will no longer be treated to the play of the best defensive
player in team history, a guy with more football, perhaps a lot more football,
left in him.
"I'm 100 percent sure
he's going to play out this contract and then some”, Cerrato told SI’s Peter
King. “I wouldn't be surprised if he signed another contract and played several
Cerrato’s comments only
serve to confirm what some believe was inevitable.
Jason Taylor the player quit
on the Dolphins. He was more professional, more honest about it than Nick Saban
was, but the act was the same. Right or wrong, he decided not to fulfill his
contract. He gave up trying to help make the Dolphins a success.
I know. “Quit” is such an
ugly word, an unfair word where JT, a man who has done so much, is concerned. Yet,
sadly, it is true.
To those who compare Taylor to Dan Marino, remember
that Marino stayed a Dolphin his entire career, through thick and thin, until
his body wouldn’t let him play anymore. This is something Marino is proud of to
this day, as are all Dolfans. No one else ever got to share Dan Marino, the
greatest Dolphin. In the end, he made sure of that.
It’s a shame that Taylor’s career will end differently.
He is, in a way, beloved as this generation’s Marino. But leaving was his
choice, one that will always be a part of his story. Will Taylor feel the price was worth it if his
career ends without a ring? Only time will tell.
Suppose Taylor signs another contract beyond the 2010
season as Cerrato hopes, which would be about the time the Dolphins re-emerge
from the wilderness. What if the re-built Dolphins actually get to the promised
land before the Redskins do? How sad would it be for Taylor
to watch his old franchise hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy from his home in
knowing that if he had stayed the course, as Michael Strahan did with Giants,
all things would have fallen perfectly into place?
As much as people wish a
happy ending for JT in Washington,
the above scenario could also happen in the strange reality that is the NFL. Again,
this was his choice to make, a chance he was willing to take.
The best possible outcome
for Taylor is that he wins a ring with the
Redskins, comes back to South Florida
vindicated, and continues his wonderful community work. Yours truly shares this
sincere wish for Taylor, the ultimate warrior.
Fittingly, Jason Taylor
slips into the annals of team history, while the Dolphins slip back to the
future, back to the days of being unknown. Taylor was, after all, their last big star. Roughly
half of the current roster is cluttered with names of people you never heard of,
unrecognizable if you saw them in public.
I’ve followed the Dolphins
at a meaningful level for 35 years, and I cannot remember a roster more
anonymous than this one will be. Real old timers, the ones who remember George
Wilson’s first training camp at St. Andrews
School in Boca Raton, and Joe Auer’s opening kickoff
return for a touchdown, might agree when they gaze upon the 2008 Dolphins.
This could be a good thing, for
those late 60’s no-names were the catalysts to the glory years. Dolfans hope the
story repeats, just as they hope for a ring for JT. But the memory of Jason Taylor,
wearing another team’s colors, will never be forgotten.