Commentary

Taylor knows end of career is near

Jets linebacker back in playoffs after long absence, and he isn't taking it for granted

Updated: January 7, 2011, 3:05 PM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Don't be surprised if Jason Taylor takes a few minutes to soak in the scene in Indianapolis on Saturday night.

He realizes that the New York Jets' wild-card showdown with the Indianapolis Colts may be the final game of his long, productive 14-year NFL career.

"The older you get in you're career, you realize the end is getting closer and closer. You could see the light at the end of the tunnel," Taylor, 36, said Wednesday. "The light's coming quicker and quicker to the point where it's not blinding yet, but you need sunglasses on. So you realize the end is near."

[+] EnlargeJason Taylor
Bob Donnan/US PresswireJason Taylor hasn't played in the NFL playoffs since Jan. 13, 2002, with Miami.

Taylor, who will be playing in his first playoff game in nine seasons, is one of a handful of Jets veterans looking to make a run at a Super Bowl.

There's 35-year-old defensive end Trevor Pryce, 31-year-old running back LaDainian Tomlinson and fullback Tony Richardson, 39, who won his first career playoff game last season with the Jets, his 15th in the league.

"There's no time like the present," coach Rex Ryan said.

That's the message Taylor shared with teammates last week. He told some of the younger Jets to "take advantage" of the moment on Saturday.

"Although a lot of them were here last year when they were in the AFC championship [game], it's not a given," Taylor said. "It really is a privilege and a very difficult thing to do in this league."

Taylor should know.

The last time he won a playoff game, Joe Torre was months removed from leading the Yankees to a World Series title, the Knicks were coming off a trip to the Eastern Conference finals and the Jets were being coached by Al Groh.

"It's been a while," Taylor said.

In fact, it's been 10 long years since Taylor's Dolphins beat Peyton Manning and the Colts in the wild-card round of the 2000 playoffs.

Taylor last played in the postseason on Jan. 13, 2002, when Miami lost to Baltimore in the opening round.

"At times it feels like 50 years ago, and sometimes it feels like yesterday," the veteran defensive end/linebacker said. "Now, we're here. We're preparing for it."

Taylor, who was despised by Jets fans during his 12-year stint in Miami, has made a few big plays this season. But probably not as many as Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum hoped for when he signed him to a two-year deal in March.

Taylor had a strip-sack of Tom Brady against the New England Patriots in Week 2 and recorded a safety in the Jets' road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15.

He finished the regular-season with 25 solo tackles and five sacks -- the third-lowest sack total of his career.

But Taylor's forgettable regular-season numbers will be forgiven if he can help the Jets win their first Super Bowl in 42 seasons. First they have get past Manning and the Colts, Taylor's reintroduction to the postseason.

Said Taylor: "This is what I came here for."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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