Lawrence Taylor Enshrinement speech
Pro Football Hall of Fame
August 7, 1999
Lawrence Taylor Jr. (presenter):
I would like to begin by saying today is a wonderful day. Today is the day we put my father, who I think is the greatest linebacker of all-time, in a place where he belongs, the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A man who was such a dominant force, he changed the way the game was played. Today is the day we put my father into the place where legends live, the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It is with great pride and pleasure that I am able to stand before you today to present such a great person, friend and father. When I was young growing up in New Jersey, which I live now, I knew my dad was special. But not only to me, but to other people. When I was young, going to school people used to ask me to get my dad to sign all kinds of things. And I was even more convinced then that my dad was special not only to me but to them too. When I reached my teens and read about all his accomplishments on the field and his mishaps off the field, that helped me know, love, and respect my father even more. Those stories made me understand why people admired him so much. Sure I admired him too, not because of L.T. the football player, cause of Lawrence Taylor, my father. I admire my father because he is never one to not admit he made a mistake. I love my father. I would do anything for him, just as well as he would do anything for me or my other sisters, Whitney, Tanisha, and Paula. If I could pick anybody to be my father, I would pick Lawrence Taylor every time. Me and my father have a good relationship. We talk all the time, one-on-one, we go to the movies, go bowling, just spending time together with him is very special to me. And it’s very special to him too. He is not only a friend to me, he’s a friend to my friends as well, because he knows how special friends are. Doc, Pritchard, Stone, Cosmo, J.D. and my Godfather Paul Davis, or as he would say “The Fellas” are his old friends from high school which he is still close to, which he loves and I love too. My father wants the best for me just as well as his parent want the best for him growing up in Williamsburg, Virginia. Most of all I would like to say “thank you” to my father for being there for me, and never letting me settle for less. And even though he might not admit it, I thank Ron Jaworski for making my father what he, cause without him he probably would have never broken that sack record. And on behalf of my father, I will thank you fans of New York, fans here of Cleveland for lighting the fire that was in my father when he played. And like he says, “Without you, there would have been a Lawrence Taylor, but there would not have been an L.T. and I thank you for that.” So before I bring my father up here, can I hear that L.T. chant?
You know Bill Parcells…I had a bet with Bill Parcells that I wouldn’t cry, well he almost won the bet right there because I almost lost it. But, I got my composure. You know, when I first came out here today…thank you...I guess we was walking, the program was just about to begin, and I was a little bit nervous, and God I was, what I was going to say, and the excitement was running through my head, and I really was a little nervous. Then I came out and I looked through the glass and I saw all the Giant uniforms, all the Giants stuff, and I knew right then and there I was in L.T. territory, and I love it. Thank you.
You know it’s a pleasure and an honor, and I do understand what it means to be in the Football Hall of Fame. Going up a lot of great guys. There’s a lot of guys gone before me and I sit back and I try to think of how did I get here. Not just through football, not just through my play, because, you know, that’s God given talent. That’s working with a lot of great teammates, great individuals. But I look around and I figure out who I have to thank for the opportunities and the position I am in right now, and I thank so many people. First of all I want to thank the Giant fans, guys, I tell you what. You know we all have great abilities, we all can play ball, we all can run, we can tackle, we can hit, we can run, we can jump, but if you have no one you can do that for then it’s not worth a thing, you know. So I’m glad I had to do it for you guys, and I’m glad I had the opportunity.
I have a lot of friends here today. Giants fan friends, my personal friends. I have “The Fellas” from Williamsburg, Virginia, where I grew up. And hey what’s happening boys. And I have my friends from my hometown. I have from New Jersey, Gary Gagliotta, Deano, Eric. Vicky, Vicky right now, she is the most important thing right now to me simply cause she gets everything done for me. My life is very chaotic as you can tell, and without her working everyday, trying to get me together, I couldn’t do it. I’d like to thank you, thank you very much.
I have cousins, cousins, and cousins, and cousins, and cousins, and cousins, and cousins. I’d also like to thank my teammates. Some of my teammates came out today. You know, O.J. Anderson, Gary Jeter, George Martin. And guys, let me tell you about this other teammate out here today. You know, me and this guy we had some words a while back and we kind of split ways and we just didn’t really talk, but I tell you, Harry Carson came out for me today, and that’s the classiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, Harry. Thank you, thank you. I love you, man. I love you. Laura and her dad. His wife. And my best friend in the whole world, Paul Davidson and his wife. He’s been with me for a lot of years. A lot of years. A lot of years.
Now I go to my family. I’d like to thank my family for being here, and being with me. My mom and my dad, right here. Why don’t you stand, stand. My brother, my two brothers. Clarence, Kim and his wife and kids. Wife and kids. My loving ex-wife, loving ex-wife. Seriously, Linda Taylor…stand up, girl. And her mother, my in-laws, ex-in-laws. Even though they’re my ex, I still love them all, I love them all, I love everyone. But you know, I’d like to thank so many people. I’d like to thank Linda for putting up with me for so many years. I’d like to thank my parents for really just working with me. And when I was a young boy, I said I was going to do certain things and they always believed in me to do the right thing. And I’m very appreciative that I had the opportunity to do for them also. And I’d like to thank my kids. I tell you what, I’d like to thank my kids for understanding people do make mistakes in life. And somehow they have the ability to forgive me and love me anyway. And I thank you for that.
There’s a host of people here that I know I am just forgetting people, and all that. But, I would like to talk about, you know, as far as my football career, you know, there’s been like three people in my football career that’s been really, really instrumental and the most important things to me as far as football goes through my football career. There’s three men, and one of those men happens to be George Young. George Young, our general manager from the New York Giants. Let me tell you, this guy, he drafted me. A lot of people asked him why, until they saw the tapes. Anyway, but George has always been in my corner. He’s always helped me push to do better, to stay out of trouble, whatever. And do the right thing. And George has always been there for me and I’d like to thank him, right there. Thank you, George.
There’s another man that’s very important, and he’s been instrumental. You know, you talk about the George Halases, you talk about the Paul Browns, you talk about all the great owners in the league. Let me tell you something, your doing yourself an injustice if you don’t talk about Wellington Mara. Wellington Mara. It’s truly been a pleasure. And let me tell you, all you Giants fans, you know, Wellington Mara is a person who really loves his football team. This guy has stood behind me for a lot of years, on the field and off the field. Without him I probably would not be here today. So I want to thank Wellington Mara for his kindness and generosity. Thank you, Wellington.
And I’d like to thank a coach, that without him. Man I tell you, he’s the coach of coaches, in my opinion. Bill Parcells, I have never in my life had a coach that knew the game of football as well and knew me as well and was able to put the two together and make a great combination. This guy is instrumental, and I was asked about Bill – do we talk any more? Well it’s like a marriage that’s lasted 30 years. You really don’t talk that much but you know you love each other anyway. And that’s the way Bill and myself is now. I wish he could be here, but he has situations in New York and I understand and I love him dearly. Without Bill Parcells, I tell you, I would not been able to do the things I was able to do.
And lastly guys, thank you, and lastly, you know people ask me all the time, well the Hall of Fame, you’re in the Hall of Fame. What do you want to lead to other people? What do you want other people to remember? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? And I thought about that. And it’s indeed a great honor to be here. But the thing I want to leave all the people is that, you guys, life, like anything else, can knock you down. It can turn you out. You’ll have problems everyday in you life. But sometimes, like Ozzie Newsome said, sometimes you just got to go play. You just got to go play. And no matter how many times it knocks you down. No matter how many times you think you can’t go forward. No matter how many times things just don’t go right. You know, anybody can quit. Anybody can do that. A Hall of Famer never quits. A Hall of Famer realizes that, a Hall of Famer realizes that the crime is not being knocked down, the crime is not getting up again. And I want to thank you for allowing me to be here. Thank you very much.