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Jason Taylor: A Hall of Famer?

With all the attention being paid to Michael Strahan over the past 2 days following his announcement that he is retiring, I kind of got to thinking a little bit.  Pretty much everyone in the media is declaring that Strahan is a 1st ballot Hall of Famer.  And if that is indeed the case, then isn't Jason Taylor also a 1st ballot Hall of Famer? 

That's what I wanted to take a closer look at.  And the first way to compare the two is statistically.  Here's how their career numbers break down:

Player Seasons Tk Sck TFL FF FR Int PD Blk Sfty TD
Michael Strahan 15 854 141.5 84.5 24 15 4 37 1 1 3
Jason Taylor 11 654 117 59.5 41 26 7 77 2 2 8

As you can see here, Taylor, despite playing in 4 fewer seasons, has better numbers than Strahan in all but 3 categories.  However, if you compare single season averages, you'll notice that Taylor averages more tackles per season (59.5 to 57) and more sacks (10.6 to 9.4) than Strahan, and just narrowly trails Strahan in tackles for loss per season (5.6 to 5.4).

Also note that both players have reached double-digit sacks in 6 seasons.

Another thing to look at are the various accolades each player has received.  Both have won Defensive Player of the Year awards.  Strahan is a 7 time pro-bowler and 4 time All-Pro while Taylor is a 6 time pro-bowler and 3 time All-Pro.  Very close, but Strahan has the edge there.

And, of course, Michael Strahan has a Super Bowl ring while Jason Taylor obviously does not (but he does have a 2nd place finish on "DWTS").  But to count the lack of a ring against Taylor is unfair.  Football is the ultimate team sport.  It's not his fault that his supporting cast was never that good.  So it's completely ignorant to say that Strahan is a Hall of Fame player while Taylor is not just because Michael has a ring.

Another way to look at Taylor's Hall of Fame credentials is by examining his place in history.  And as it stands now, Taylor ranks 14th on the all-time career sacks list.  Strahan, meanwhile, comes in at #5.  And since it's likely Taylor will play in 2008 (I won'y ever say it's guaranteed, but it's likely), Jason will likely rise close to the top 10 (10 sacks in '08 would move JT up to 11th).  And if Taylor were to play 3 more seasons (including '08), he'd have a very real opportunity to move ahead of Strahan, and to do it in one less season.  All Taylor would have to do is average 8 sacks per season over 3 seasons to pull a half of a sack away from Strahan for 5th all-time.

The thing is, however, Taylor doesn't want to play much longer.  Taylor even stated that he's unsure if he'll be playing beyond the 2008 season.  Therefore, he may have just one more season to prove to the voters that he is indeed a Hall of Fame player.  But in my view, he could retire today and be a Hall of Famer - and on the 1st ballot.

The bottom line here is that while Strahan was a great player, he didn't have the impact that Jason Taylor had at times.  Taylor is a player who can single-handedly take over football games as a defensive end.  Those kinds of players are rare.  Strahan, while a great player, did not have that kind of overall effect on his team.  I've watched many, many Strahan games and not once do I recall him taking over a game the way Jason Taylor has done in the past.

So if the media wants to already enshrine Michael Strahan into the Hall of Fame, then they better be making some room already for Jason Taylor as well.

Why?

Because Jason Taylor is a better player.  Period.