Lawrence Julius Taylor (born February 4, 1959), nicknamed “L.T.”, is an American former professional football player who spent his entire career as a linebacker for the New York Giants (1981–1993) in the National Football League (NFL).
After an All-American career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1978–1981), Taylor was drafted by the Giants as the second overall selection in the 1981 NFL Draft. Although controversy surrounded the selection due to Taylor’s contract demands, the two sides quickly resolved the issue. Taylor won several defensive awards after his rookie season. Taylor is both the first and currently only NFL player to win the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in his rookie season. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Taylor was a disruptive force at outside linebacker, and is credited with changing defensive game plans, defensive pass rushing schemes, offensive line blocking schemes, and offensive formations used in the NFL. Taylor produced double-digit sacks each season from 1984 through 1990, including a career-high of 20.5 in 1986. He also won a record three AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) for his performance during the 1986 season. Taylor is one of only two defensive players in the history of the NFL to have ever won the NFL MVP award (the other one being Alan Page in 1971) and no defensive player has won since him. He was named First-team All-Pro in eight of his first ten seasons, and Second-team All-Pro in the other two. Taylor was a key member of the Giants’ defense, nicknamed “The Big Blue Wrecking Crew”, that led New York to victories in Super Bowls XXI and XXV. During the 1980s, Taylor, fellow linebackers Carl Banks, Gary Reasons, Brad Van Pelt, Brian Kelley, Pepper Johnson, and Hall of Famer Harry Carson gave the Giants linebacking corps a reputation as one of the best in the NFL. He is widely regarded as the best defensive player of his generation, and the greatest defensive player of all time.