LT: The Life and Times Showtime Documentary
How do you overshadow a career that begins as the second pick in the first round of the NFL draft and ends in the Canton Football Hall of Fame and includes ten trips to the Pro Bowl and two Super Bowl victories, not to mention being acclaimed as one of the greatest defensive players ever, credited with having caused the most profound change in the game in the modern era?
As ‘LT: The Life & Times’ shows, it took LT to overshadow Lawrence Taylor. Cocaine threatened his career long before injury or the short-lived nature of NFL careers. A party life style fueled by his drug use led to the break up of his family. And, when the big money of his NFL contracts came to an end with his departure from the game, he pursued crack with the same gusto with which he had pursued quarterbacks in the pocket.
During his induction into the Hall of Fame, Taylor thanks “my loving ex-wife, Linda Taylor.” One of the sad recollections from both Linda Taylor and Lawrence Taylor is when he returned to the Meadowlands to have his number added to the New York Giants Ring of Honor. He asked Linda to bring the kids and be there for him as a family. She did, but the next day put herself and the kids on a plane and left. His daughter shares that when the kids would go to visit him in New Jersey, the house would be a mess, the refrigerator empty, and he would leave a couple hundred dollars on the counter before leaving himself.
“You can say drugs is a victimless crime…victimless unless you want to count your family…” Lawrence Taylor
There is wonderful footage and star-studded interviews throughout the documentary including Joe Theismann, Ron Jaworski, Phil Sims, Harry Carson, Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Jim Kelly and Oliver Stone, who directed Taylor in ‘Any Given Sunday.’
“He’s real. No hype.” Joe Theismann
There are highlights of Taylor’s playing days and lowlights of his steep fall, including an incredibly awkward live interview with Jim Nantz where Taylor appears under the influence. Beware, there is also a replay of the infamous play in which Taylor’s tackle broke Theismann’s leg (once again, I looked the other way).
Appearing throughout the documentary is Taylor’s friend and party buddy in the 80s, Dino Kyriacou, who has a Joe Pesci-character-like aura that makes you think the label of “friend” is synonymous with “hanger-on” in this case. Though Taylor seems to genuinely like the guy.
The documentary runs for two hours and feels just a little bit too long. But it is a compelling watch for football fans, especially those who witnessed Taylor in his prime.
“All by himself, Lawrence Taylor altered the environment and forced opposing coaches and players to adapt.” Michael Lewis, The Blind Side
I thought about the opening pages of The Blind Side throughout this documentary. Here is an affiliate link to amazon.com for the book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game