How good was Joe Theismann at football

Model professional, revolutionary, wrecking ball

Lawrence Taylor, 1986

It's one of the most legendary and shocking scenes in football history. Monday Night Football, November 1985: Star quarterback Joe Theismann moves in the pocket in his Redskins game against the Giants, looking for pass points. What follows is a tough but legal hit of the number 56 in the blue jersey. The 1.91-meter colossus lands on the right leg of the quarterback, which breaks under the load like a dilapidated stick.

It is also the opening scene of the film "The Blind Side" and synonymous with the end of Joe Theismann's career. Lawrence Taylor is the name of the man who haunted the then 36-year-old with one of his many sacks and made the football world catch its breath. Taylor is the second defensive player after Page to win the MVP trophy.

Not much more unites the two. While Page acted as a role model and later as the legal representative of the state, Taylor was often caught by violations of the law. His MVP award, on the other hand, is undisputed: after all, there are players who stand out with exceptional performance within the fixed scheme of defense - and there is Lawrence Taylor, the defender who revolutionized the game like no other defensive specialist.

Taylor, the Linebacker 2.0

The linebacker, who was drafted second in 1981, redefined his position. His lightning-fast and powerful attacks on the blind side of the quarterback drove a number of offensive lines to despair and were ultimately responsible for the fact that the then Redskins coach Joe Gibbs created a new position. The H-Back was born, an additional tight end that, thanks to its variability, should be able to stop a linebacker like Taylor. A normal fullback had no chance in the mismatch against Taylor.

Years after the end of his career, Theismann also gave an interview in which he referred to this special task of stopping Taylor. In it he described the basic line-ups of his team and the opponent, whose players were described in normal letters - with one exception: "We had C's for cornerbacks, S's for safeties and all the other positions marked with letters. Except for one. That was that 56. " Lawrence Taylor.

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Achieved everything after five years

LT became the first player to be named Defensive Player of the Year in his rookie season. He took part in ten Pro Bowls and has two Super Bowl rings. And already after five years in the league he had achieved everything: He had already played his "best season, most recently won the Super Bowl. I was at the top, so what else could come? Nothing."

This "best season" was indeed groundbreaking. In 1986 Taylor was responsible for 20.5 sacks. He is still in sixth place in NFL history today - along with J.J. Watt. In addition, Taylor got two caused fumbles and a total of 105 tackles. And: No team has a better record than the Cowboys (14-2).

With opposing quarterbacks, LT was feared - and celebrated for its performance in the league. His long-time coach, Bill Parcells, praised him after a game against the New Orleans Saints in 1988: "That was the best I have ever seen." The talk was about a game with seven tackles, three sacks and two fumbles - statistically not Taylor's best game, but probably the most remarkable given a torn chest muscle.

"One Man Wrecking Ball"

However, he did not cope well with fame, as he himself stated in an interview: "As easy as football is for me, life is so difficult for me." With these words begins a documentary entitled "Life and Times", which gives a lot of information about the abysses of the NFL professional who has long struggled with his cocaine addiction.

After twelve years in the Giants Jersey, Taylor's career in the NFL ended. The "one-man wrecking ball", as Theismann called it, remained in show business. After rather unsuccessful appearances as a TV analyst and a divorce, LT even appeared on "WrestleMania XI". But it wasn't until years later that his life really got better. In this way Taylor "exchanges" his dependencies and literally takes a new path. He replaces the drugs in his life with an "addiction" to golf.

What Taylor ultimately leaves behind is a great legacy. The NFL is switching to bigger left tackles because of Taylor and also owes a defensive revolution to one of the most controversial players in history. Taylor finds the appropriate closing words at the end of his documentary himself: "LT was a bad motherfucker."


Overall, two Defenders, who could hardly be more different, and one kicker won the MVP Award. But what the past teaches: To become a Defense MVP, you need more than just an outstanding season. You have to change the game in a decisive way, decide games single-handedly or dominate a season - a very difficult task as a defender these days.

Watt manages to appear as the most dominant defender in the league and also to set accents in the offense. Given the success of the Texans, which is always included in an MVP election, the chances for the 25-year-old to win the MVP trophy are not particularly good.

The fact that Taylor was recognized as the last defender as Most Valuable Player almost 30 years ago only allows one conclusion: The defense does win championships - but rather no MVP trophies.

Page 1: Model professional Alan Page, MVP 1971

Page 2: Sensational kicker Mark Moseley, MVP 1982

Page 3: Revolutionary and Bad Boy Lawrence Taylor, MVP 1986