Saturday, May 24, 2008

Whither Jason Taylor?

Thus far, the overhauling of the Miami Dolphins has been comprehensive in both philosophy and personnel. Gone is the old team leadership from the field (Zach Thomas), to the sideline (Cam Cameron) to the front office (just about everyone with a suit on). The Parcells/Ireland/Sparano era has arrived to fill the void with vigor and a clear plan. The first draft since 1983 when Dan Marino came to the franchise was just completed, and clearly holds the keys to the Fins resuscitation. There's a new candor in press conferences, and clearly a new level of accountability on and off the field. All the fundamentals for a successful turnaround.
Except for one thing: Jason Taylor.
The All-Pro, game-changing, face-of-the-franchise defensive end just announced, after a failed trade attempt during the draft, a snub by his new team VP, and his turn in the limelight on Dancing With The Stars, that he has no intention of attending any required team activities including training camp.
Now the Dolphins find themselves in an impossible position at the worst possible time: they must cut bait with a player who, though likely to enter the Hall of Fame as a Dolphin, clearly wants nothing to do with the franchise, and they must find a way to get some sort of value for him. This is a team trying to build some forward momentum, and can't afford to get bogged down in this sort of drama. However, they can't just cut the guy or sue him when he doesn't fulfill his contract, or else they risk looking like the days of gratuitous personnel mismanagement have not stopped, but have carried on in lock-step with the past.
I've always been a big Jason Taylor fan, he's always been a class act on and off the field; however, I can't support the way he's pushing the franchise. Clearly there has been some sort of communication breakdown between player and team, no one wants to explain what happened, and now no one wants to take responsibility.
In the eyes of the Tipsy Historian, Taylor's integrity as an athlete is hanging in the balance; if he wants to pursue a career in Hollywood, as he stated this week, he should retire and move on. If he wants to play football, he should shut up and commit to playing, thus giving the Fins some wiggle room to trade him to a contender, which no fan, including me, would begrudge him.
The Dolphins have got to continue to build on the positive energy that's building in Miami, and they've got to close the book on the Taylor era, and do it quickly. Stay magnanimous, stay focused, be up front with both Taylor and the public, then move on. The future is waiting.

No comments: