Jason Taylor spent 13 seasons trying to get to a Super Bowl - 12 of those in Miami. Now in his first season as a member of the New York Jets, Taylor is on the verge of reaching his first ever Super Bowl. On Sunday, the once beloved veteran will play in his first ever AFC Championship game when the Jets head to Pittsburgh to battle the Steelers.
Here's a sad fact to ponder this weekend. The Dolphins reached the postseason in each of Taylor's first five seasons, going 3-5 and never making it beyond the divisional playoffs. In just one season with the division rival Jets, Taylor can match his career playoff wins total with a victory over Pittsburgh tomorrow. Even more sickening, his team's win over the Colts back on Wildcard weekend was his first postseason win since the 2000 season - when Lamar Smith went wild and led the Dolphins to an overtime win over, yes, the Colts. That win, by the way, was the last postseason win for the Miami Dolphins.
But back to the question at hand. Will you be rooting for this former South Florida sports icon tomorrow to finally reach a Super Bowl...even if it is as a member of the hated Jets?
On the surface, this seems like an easy question. After all, how could any Dolphins fan want to see the Jets each the Super Bowl. The thought alone makes me queasy. I mean, seriously, we're talking about the Jets. We're talking about Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan and Bart Scott and having to deal with obnoxious Jet fans like Fireman Ed (and seriously, what a complete jackass that guy is).
But the other side of the debate can be compelling. Taylor was a much beloved sports figure down in South Florida. We all loved him - let's be honest. When he returned to Miami after his year in Washington, he was welcomed back with open arms by fans and teammates. He still does charity work within the South Florida community - a community he clearly loves.
And we have to remember that it was not Taylor who turned his back on the Dolphins. He wanted to return to Miami. He wanted to remain a Miami Dolphin. But the Dolphins did not want him. This regime saw Taylor as a "progress stopper." The wanted to get Cameron Wake more playing time - and rightfully so. They wanted to develop a young outside linebacker - and Koa Misi clearly got better as he got more experience during the year.
Left without a job, the Jets came knocking - literally. And Jason didn't really have a choice.
"I’ve enjoyed the whole journey all year," Taylor told the Miami Herald. "From the moment Rex sat down in my living room [in April], it’s been a fantastic journey."
That's right. Most of us forget that while Tony Sparano and the Dolphins turned their backs on Jason last offseason, Rex Ryan flew down to his home to convince him to go to New York. And look where he is today.
I'm going to leave you with this final quote from Jason that sums up the kind of competitor he is. Then it'll be up to you to decide if you want to cheer for this former Miami icon.
"You want that ring," says Taylor. "All the other things are great. The Pro Bowls and all of that other crap is fine. But if you’re not winning as a team and not getting the chance to be a champion, it’s not worth it."