Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Taylor, Jets make signing official
NEW YORK -- Jason Taylor had an uneasy feeling when he visited the New York Jets' training facility two weeks ago.
There was green and white everywhere, and this was the team the former Miami Dolphins star despised for so long. And among Jets fans, the feeling was mutual.
"It's a little surreal," Taylor said after signing a two-year deal with the Jets on Wednesday. "To be honest, really on my first visit, walking into the building, kind of feeling like you're walking into somewhat enemy territory, it was different."
Taylor said he's over the awkwardness now and committed to being a member of the Jets' top-ranked defense.
"Well, it is pretty ironic where we find ourselves right now," he said.
The NFL's active sacks leader spent 12 of his 13 seasons in Miami and was hoping for an offer from the Dolphins that never came. After vacationing in Costa Rica last weekend, he decided to join the Jets.
"This is where I'm supposed to be right now," Taylor said. "I'm here for one reason, and I'm here to play football the best that I can and help this team win a Super Bowl. If that happens here, people in Hollywood spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to end a movie, or people try to figure out how to end a book. What better ending is it than to win the Super Bowl?
"To do it here, it would be pretty ironic, but it would be awesome."
New York could pay Taylor only $1.75 million in base salary this season, the same amount unrestricted free-agent kicker Jay Feely signed for with Arizona. The deal includes a large roster bonus for the second year, so Taylor is basically playing for a one-season run with the Jets.
"Things didn't work out where I could stay in Miami," he said. "I'm proud to be where I am now and look forward to creating some havoc for the Jets and winning some ballgames and winning some fans over here."
That might take some time -- or a few well-timed sacks. He was long a part of one of the NFL's most intense rivalries and had a contentious relationship with fans in New York. Taylor called them ignorant and classless, and said their "J-E-T-S!" chant was "dumb."
Now, he's saying all the right things.
"We had a good time with it and we went at it a lot of times and it added some fuel to the fire," Taylor said. "Me being up here may or may not add more fuel to the fire, but as far as the Jets' fans are concerned, I'm one of you guys now."
He made sure to check out the regular-season schedule when it was released Tuesday night and knows he might get a negative reception in Miami when the Jets play there Sept. 26.
"Look, I played a long time in Miami, so those fans and a lot of people associated with that city will always hold a special place in my heart," Taylor said. "It's like when you're dating a girl for so long and you guys break up. They still hold a place in your heart.
"At the same time, it's time for a new chapter."
During a 30-minute news conference Tuesday night at his foundation's offices in Weston, Fla., Taylor said the Dolphins offered him an extension this past November but withdrew the proposal before the season ended. He said Miami made no offer since and gave him no reason for the lack of interest in a new deal. Taylor said he had a meeting scheduled last week with coach Tony Sparano, but the Dolphins canceled it.
Fearing he might not get any other offers, Taylor decided to sign with the Jets. He knows some will question his motives and desire.
"I can't really concern myself with that," he said. "I've kind of had a chip on my shoulder all my career. I've always been doubted. I've always been told I was too small, I was too pretty, I was too this. ... I'm 35 years old, and people think I can't do it anymore because I'm too old and maybe I'm washed up and can't get to the quarterback anymore, so the chips keep growing. The fire's still burning, trust me. It's burning hot."
Taylor said his surgically repaired right shoulder is feeling good and he expects to be 100 percent for training camp in August. Meanwhile, he'll participate in offseason workouts.
Taylor also said he's looking forward to going back to a pass-rushing role in Rex Ryan's 3-4 defensive scheme and adding to his 127½ career sacks.
"I know people like to say I'm old," Taylor said, "but I like to think I have the potential still to ring up some good numbers and make some good plays and some game-changing plays. That's what I'm here for."