- The Washington Times - Friday, May 23, 2008

The thinking in football is sometimes obtuse, as we learn anew from the acrimony between the newly installed brain trust of the Dolphins and defensive end Jason Taylor.

It is true that football players are expected to give 110 percent, if not 120 percent. It also is true that sometimes they are supposed to make plays that show great presence of mind.

Taylor, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, has done all this in his 11-season career. But he recognizes that football players have an incredibly short shelf life and is endeavoring to have a productive post-football career.

We all can agree that it is unfortunate more football players do not think similarly.

Nothing provokes righteous indignation in the national press like the story of the broken-down ex-football player who is living in poverty and is burdened with all these football-related problems with his body.

The national press cries for a couple of days, implores the NFL to do more for its ex-players and conveniently removes personal accountability from the tear fest.

Corporate America, in this case the NFL, exploited the modern-day gladiator and then spit him out after it no longer had a use for him.

This fits the warm-and-fuzzy template of the national press, of corporate America being evil and the masses being victims.

So here comes Taylor working on not becoming one of those broken-down ex-football players who has nothing but his precious memories and lots of aches and pains.

Taylor, who is 33, stands guilty of trying to transcend his sport. He recently completed a second-place finish on “Dancing with the Stars” and hopes to become an action film star in Hollywood.

His stint on “Dancing with the Stars” certainly raised his profile across the nation, which cannot hurt if you are looking to establish yourself in Hollywood.

Of course, this pursuit annoyed Bill Parcells, an old-school control freak who believes an organization cannot be successful unless all its employees, secretaries included, are immersed in football in some fashion 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

And the annoyance of Parcells rose with each “voluntary” workout Taylor missed. While his teammates were sweating under the South Florida sun, Taylor was hanging out with Denzel Washington and meeting with studio executives in La La Land.

The frustration of Parcells is not entirely out of place, considering the anemic state of the Dolphins after they posted a 1-15 record last season.

But his frustration should have been tempered by the fact that Taylor is hardly a newcomer looking to prove himself, is known to take care of his body and is coming off a Pro Bowl season.

Parcells also knows that it is far easier to trade a player in good standing with a team than one who, essentially, has been locked out of the team’s functions.

The tempest has led to commentators choosing the bad guy in all this, although the exercise has been done in the context of football.

Taylor is the team’s captain, he should be leading his teammates instead of dancing, and blah, blah, blah, which is an acceptable argument.

Yet it would be irresponsible of Taylor not to be cultivating his post-football ambitions. And it is not as if he could have told the producers of “Dancing With the Stars” to work their programming around the voluntary workout schedule of the Dolphins.

It was incumbent upon Taylor to seize the public-relations opportunity in the sunset of his football career. You either utilize your football fame while you have it or you become a relic of the past soon after your career is finished.

Taylor may not become an action hero in Hollywood, but it is hard to fault him for rearranging his priorities at this point in his career.

Rest assured, the moment his body serves no utility to a football team, he will be dispatched to the streets.

All players should be as prudent as Taylor.



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