Commentary

First LT, now JT for geriatric Jets

Needing sack machine, Gang Green get dancing machine who will turn 36 in September

Updated: April 20, 2010, 9:12 PM ET
By Ian O'Connor | ESPNNewYork.com

Jason Taylor has assailed New Yorkers with more venom, with more rising-from-his-toes rage, than any public figure since Gerald Ford told the city (more or less) to drop dead.

But no, that's not the reason the Jets shouldn't have signed Taylor. The Knicks once thought about acquiring Reggie Miller, too.

All's fair in love and war and free agency, so this marriage of Taylor and a franchise he openly and proudly despised shouldn't be annulled on grounds of common decency and good taste.

Taylor won't hate Jets fans if they're chanting his name, and Jets fans won't hate Taylor if he's separating the opposing quarterback from his senses and the ball.

But the odds of Taylor doing much of that in a Jets uniform, after turning 36 in the days preceding the season opener, aren't nearly as encouraging as they were eight years ago, when he gave the Dolphins a monstrous 18.5 sacks.

I know, I know: Taylor was the league's defensive player of the year in 2006, he was still in double figures in sacks as recently as 2007 and Rex Ryan supposedly is preparing to protect his aging legs, to make him a part-time pass rusher with full-time perks.

This still feels like another page ripped out of the Dan Snyder playbook. I'm sure there are dozens of ways for a team to make a one-year journey from a losing AFC Championship Game proposition to a Super Bowl parade.

Hiring fading stars isn't one of them.

On that front, signing LaDainian Tomlinson made no sense, either. The last time the Jets saw him, Tomlinson was being jeered by his home fans in a playoff game defined by this cold, hard fact:

The great LT looked about as washed up as the great Muhammad Ali looked against Trevor Berbick.

Somehow, some way, Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum walked away from that game believing Tomlinson was the answer to their backfield prayers. Never mind that Thomas Jones, the Jets' leading rusher the past three years, would finish 2009 with 841 fewer regular-season carries and receptions in his career than Tomlinson has in his, suggesting the strong likelihood of fresher 2010 wheels.

Instead, Jones crash-landed in Kansas City. The Jets wanted LT, who was unwanted in San Diego, just as they wanted Taylor, who was unwanted in Miami.

Remember who runs the Dolphins, a guy by the name of Bill Parcells. Before Ryan hit town like a Wild West outlaw barreling through those swinging saloon doors, shooting first and asking questions later, Parcells was the best thing to happen to the Jets since Joe Willie's guarantee.

Parcells won two Super Bowls with the Giants, took the Patriots to a third and used his unmatched credibility to drive the Jets to a third-quarter lead over John Elway's Broncos in an AFC title game. So yeah, he knows a thing or three about personnel.

And even though his Dolphins were a losing team last season, a losing team in the Jets' division, Parcells refused to offer Taylor a contract that would've kept him away from the one team he burns to beat more than any other.

What does that say? Are the Jets afraid of the answer?

Surely they can't believe Parcells let Taylor go simply because he did the fox-trot on "Dancing with the Stars." Parcells had no use for Taylor's showbiz pursuits, but he's nobody's football fool. If he thought Taylor could help him turn a 7-9 into an 11-5, the Jets would still be looking for an outside linebacker.

So Parcells' motives are more obvious than Taylor's. If the pass-rusher rarely got to the quarterback during the last two months of 2009, he did manage seven sacks after a miserable one-year stay with the Redskins. In other words, he didn't appear quite as finished as Tomlinson did.

But Taylor does have a thing for the brightest TV lights, and nothing transitions a handsome, marketable face from the blood-and-guts realities of the AFC East to the glam-and-glitz possibilities of Hollywood quite like a New York stage.

Is Taylor trying to win a championship? Or is he hoping to become the next Nathan Lane?

The Jets have convinced themselves that Taylor is in it to win it, even if their recent history with graying celebrities (see Brett Lorenzo Favre, 2008) isn't a happy one.

That's something of a shame. With the quarterback of the near future (Mark Sanchez) and coach of the near future (Ryan) in place, the Jets didn't need to recruit their latest series of headliners out of a nursing home.

History conspires with Jason Taylor's birth date to say the Jets should've taken a pass on this pass-rusher and waited to find their sacks in the draft.

Ian O'Connor is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

Ian O'Connor

ESPNNewYork.com columnist
Ian O'Connor has won numerous national awards as a sports columnist and is the author of three books, including the bestseller, "The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter." ESPN Radio broadcasts "The Ian O'Connor Show" every Sunday from 7 to 9 a.m. ET. Follow Ian on Twitter »

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