Former Dolphins star Jason Taylor tackles current NFL issues, his recent coaching gig, and life after pro football.
Jason Taylor retired after the 2011 season with 139.5 career sacks—the sixth-most in the history of the NFL.
Sundays aren’t quite the same for Miami Dolphins legend Jason Taylor, who retired after the 2011 season with 139.5 sacks, sixth all-time in NFL history. “My Sundays are spent watching games, usually at home with my sons,” says the former defensive end, who spent 13 of his 15 seasons with the Dolphins. “They’re 13 and 12 years old, so everything is about fantasy football for them. They’ll ask me who to put in based on whose defense is good. They try to tap my brain for some football knowledge.”
That knowledge is put to good use on Westwood One Radio and Sirius XM, where Taylor dishes out commentary, and on the football field, where he coaches his oldest son’s football team in Davie—a field that has become a haven for former Dolphins stars. “I coach hard, but I love being out there and around the kids.” Taylor has been making an impact on children his entire career, as an inspiration both on the field and off, with the Jason Taylor Foundation, dedicated to helping kids in need since its inception in 2004. The foundation has contributed nearly $5 million in programs and services ranging from scholarships and back-to-school shopping to local programming like the Jason Taylor Reading Room and the bluapple Poetry Network, which helps students express themselves through spoken word.
Congratulating former Reading Room student Autumn Williams at the Louder Than A Bomb Florida poetry festival finals.
“We’ve come to a point now where we’ve provided college scholarships and created so much of our own programming that it’s really taken on a life of its own,” Taylor says. “We have kids who came through the Reading Room who come back and volunteer for us after college.” Football was a platform for Taylor, who himself “grew up on the other side of the tracks,” to make a difference in young people’s lives. But today, for many, like San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the sport also serves as a platform for protest, to bring social injustices to light. Kneeling during the anthem has become a weekly hot topic, and Taylor sees the impact.
“There were a handful of guys on the Dolphins that [knelt], and in no way does it disrespect the freedoms we have or the military or the flag,” he says. “It was a sole support for the issues we have in society, and I have no problem with that. People have fought and died to provide that right. No matter what side of the fence you’re on, if people can learn to respect each other, then I think we’re on a track to doing some good.” As for the game itself, Taylor wakes up with a near-daily reminder of his 15 seasons. “Every day hurts,” he says. “It’s just part of it. You get to the point where you become used to living with pain. Certain things don’t work the way they used to—shoulders, knees, hips, back— but I’m still pretty healthy. I’ve been very lucky.”
Taylor celebrates a sack against the Houston Texans at Sun Life Stadium in 2011.
In today’s game, there’s more talk of injuries than ever before, and Taylor appreciates the efforts to prevent concussions and head injuries, but notes that the physical wear and tear is something you sign up for as a player. “Football is a violent physical game, and you can’t take injuries away,” he says. “If you play the game of football, you’re going to get hurt.” If he still could be out on the field, Taylor says he’d likely jump at the chance. But for now, Dolphins fans will have to settle for that giant Jason Taylor mascot.
“It’s pretty funny,” he says of the giant-head version of him that runs around the field during each home game. “There’s a Dan Marino, a Don Shula, and then somehow somebody picked me to be the other guy. I’m actually pretty flattered.” The Jason Taylor Foundation supports and creates programs that facilitate the personal growth and empowerment of South Florida’s children in need by focusing on improved healthcare, education, and quality of life. For more information or to donate, visit jasontaylorfoundation.com.