Miami Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor is doing his best Darth Vader impersonation. Young Anakin Skywalker was found on the desert planet of Tatooine, a known planet, but remote from the rest of the universe. He was brought, with little fanfare, out of that seclusion, and thrust into the midst of an Academy, where he was expected to slowly develop. However, with his skill, Anakin quickly excelled, and outgrew his training.
He started making questionable decisions, doing things no one really understood, but not anything dangerous, either. Suddenly, he found himself in a relationship no one really approved of, and doing things that were unacceptable to some (like, slaughtering an entire Tusken Raider camp). Even with those breaches, however, Anakin was able to find his way back to his training, and the Jedi Academy.
Then, it all suddenly changed. Temptation overwhelmed Anakin, who had been denied his proper title of Jedi Master by the Academy - despite being one of the top Jedi of all time - and he soon found himself working with Senator Palpatine. Eventually, when he had full control of Anakin, Palpatine discloses his nature as the Dark Lord of the Sith, and brings Anakin to the dark side.
When, all things seem lost, however, Luke Skywalker is able to step in, and turn Anakin, now known as Darth Vader, back to the light side, saving him at the very end of the series.
Why do I tell you this? Because this really is the story of Jason Taylor. Taylor was home schooled through high school, then attended Akron. If that isn't a secluded, desert planet, then nothing is.
Saved from his Tatooine life, Taylor was drafted in the third round of the 1997 draft, Once he was in Miami, however, he excelled. Taylor found himself starting as a rookie, recording 5 sacks. He continued to grow and develop. By 2007, Taylor had established himself as the preeminent defensive end in the league, earning 5 All Pro Selection, 6 Pro Bowl appearance, a Defensive Player of the Year Award, and the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Then came the flirtations. Taylor found himself on "Dancing With the Stars," which did not sit well with then Miami czar Bill Parcells. He was traded to the Washington Redskins, where he spent 2008. In May, 2009, Taylor was able to find his way back home, coming back to Miami for the season (and, luckily, not massacring any Tusken Raiders).
Then, it all suddenly changed. The Dolphins refused to name Taylor as a priority for the team, and would not offer the all-time Dolphin a contract. So, Taylor turned to the dark side, heading north to the New York Jets, where head coach Rex Ryan, in his role as Senator Palpatine, sold Taylor on the power of the Jets organization.
In August, Taylor was saved from the dark side, returning to Miami for his third stint with the franchise. In Return of the Jedi, as Luke Skywalker is able to turn Darth Vader back to the light side, Vader attacks, and eventually defeats, his one time Dark Lord of the Sith.
This week, Taylor has his first opportunity to do the same with Rex Ryan's New York Jets.
"I'm sure I'll be booed. I was booed for a lot of years in that stadium or in that town," said Taylor. "It's a new stadium but I was booed for a lot of years in that town and I tried to do my best to make them cheer last year. But being back on the other side of the coin now I'm sure I'll get my fair share of boos, which is to be expected. They're Jet fans and they should be and they're very passionate about their team and that's the way it's supposed to be."
Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano isn't afraid to admit, they are using Taylor's knowledge of the Jets from his one year flirtation with the dark side, to gain knowledge about the Jets and their schemes. "This is different than just pulling a player off of a practice squad from some place or anything like that," Sparano said. "He was there a year ago. I think he has a pretty good understanding and philosophy. Believe me, we didn't sit there and grab Jason and start talking about ‘tell me what they're going to do on 3rd-and-4, tell me what they are going to do in the red zone'. Nobody knows that.
"Those people have coached well down there and they do a super job, but you know personnel wise you can get some things. I think philosophically you might be able to get some things on their approach to us even a year ago and what maybe they think."
A year ago, the talk leading in to the Dolphins-Jets rivalry include Taylor as a major plot line. This year, the return of the NFL's active leader in sacks (133.5 and counting) to Miami has been lost between Miami's 0-4 start, and the Jets' 2-3 beginnings. That's fine with Taylor, who, even though it's the biggest rivalry game he will have this year, wants to treat this week just like every other week.
"Sure it's guys I know and I'm not going to play any easier because I know them and am friends with them," Taylor said. "And they're not going to take it easy on me either. I'm sure they want to make me regret not going there or whatever, so it'll be a fun game. It's a game that both teams need to win, so it'll be your typical New York-Miami heated and intense game."
In his 15th year, Taylor is back home - back on the light side - and he can still be a weapon on the field. Hopefully, he quickly regains his powers from the light side, so he can overthrow Senator Palpa-Ryan this week.