Lawrence Taylor Back in Court: Top 10 NFL Legacies Ruined From Off-Field Issues
Former Pro Bowler, NFL MVP and Super Bowl Champion Lawrence Taylor is back in court today for his alleged rape of an underage prostitute.
Taylor had one of the best careers that any person could dream of, winning countless awards and ending up as one of the best, if not the best, linebackers the NFL has ever seen.
He seems to have fouled up his legacy these days, however, as he is now looked at more as that guy who used to play football but went crazy with cocaine and prostitutes.
He is not the only player to ruin his legacy with off-field issues, however, as countless others have done something off the field that they ended up being remembered for rather than football.
So, let's take a look at the players who will be remembered for more than just the way that they played football, but also the way that they handled themselves off the field.
10. Ricky Williams
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The 30 For 30 documentary "Run Ricky, Run" will give you a totally different perspective on the guy, but there is no doubt that his legacy is tainted.
He was expected to be the next great thing in the NFL, and for all intents and purposes, he was.
Williams was moderately successful in New Orleans, rushing for 1000 yards twice in three seasons, and then was traded to Miami and absolutely took off.
He led the league with just over 1800 yards rushing and was an absolute dynamo for the Dolphins, but was always viewed as an odd ball.
In 2004, after he tested positive for marijuana for the second time since being acquired by the Dolphins, he announced his retirement amidst rumors of a third positive test.
He then went on to study holistic medicine, and, after returning to the Dolphins in 2005 and repaying some of his signing bonus, Williams tested positive for yet another banned substance, this time rumored to be something he had picked up while studying holistics.
He was suspended for the 2006 season, in which he played in the CFL for the Toronto Agronauts.
Williams has since returned to football, but he has always been looked at with a sideways glance by the media and those around him, despite his effective play.
9. Plaxico Burress
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It seems that people have already forgotten what a great receiver Plaxico Burress was.
In his eight seasons in the NFL, Plax caught over 500 passes, gaining nearly 8,000 yards and catching 55 touchdowns to go along with the go ahead touchdown in Super Bowl XLII that would end the New England Patriots' dreams of a perfect season.
He had been plagued by off-field issues, however, with a hold-out in 2008, failing to show up to practice, leading to a two-game suspension, and constantly berating the officials.
He has also been involved in two separate domestic dispute cases, a civil case in which he failed to make public appearances in return for a Chevy Avalanche from a car dealership in Pennsylvania, and a hit-and-run accusation in Florida.
And then there is the accidental shooting. We all know the story: Plax had a gun in his waistband in a New York nightclub, leading to counts of reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a handgun, which landed him two years in jail.
Anytime you go to jail, you had better bet you'll be remembered for something more than just football.
8. Paul Hornung
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Paul Hornung should be remembered as one of the best short yardage backs of all time, instead he is remembered as a notorious gambler.
Hornung was the halfback/placekicker for the Green Bay Packers from 1957-1963 and 1964-66, and is one of the great versatile players of the era.
He recorded an NFL record 176 points in 1960, a record that stood for 46 years until LaDanian Tomlinson broke the record.
Unfortunately, he was found to have been involved with some shady people, and was in quite a bit of gambling debt which he amassed from betting on football games, a cardinal sin of sports.
He was suspended by Commissioner Pete Rozelle for the 1963 season, and without the constant lobbying by Vince Lombardi, would probably have never gotten back in.
7. Ben Roethlisberger
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Let's start out Big Ben with two facts.
First, Ben Roethlisberger has never been convicted of raping anybody; he has merely been accused by a few shady people that he had unwarranted sexual contact with them.
Second, the public doesn't care; he is tarnished.
It may seem unfair that even though he was never punished legally for any actions, he has already been persecuted by the people and found guilty.
It's more than just the "Rapelisberger" t-shirts that you will see scattered about Cleveland and Cincinnati, but it's the fact that he has put himself in these situations.
He has done things that at least made someone uncomfortable, not once, but twice.
If it had only happened once, it would be much easier to forgive, but he will forever have that scarlet letter on his jersey.
6. Brett Favre
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The public image of Brett Favre has taken a mighty tumble in the past couple of seasons.
People are fed up with his endless waffling, no matter how delicious waffles may be. He has become the butt of too many jokes.
There was once a time when the majority of the country looked at him in a positive light. He was just a kid in a grown man's body, playing a game, and if you disliked him, you would have to explain why.
Now, the majority of the country is tired of his act. He's just a grown man with a childish mentality, and if you still do like him, you will likely have to explain why (see what I did there).
Now he also has the Jen Sterger saga to go along with things that people no longer want to hear about.
He will always be one of the most impressive quarterbacks of this era, but because of the end of his career, there's a bit of a stench on him.
5. Marvin Harrison
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Former Colts wide receiver and Peyton Manning's favorite target for many seasons quietly retired in what seemed like a normal retirement for a reserved player who had grown past his prime.
He amassed 14500 yards in his 13 seasons in Indianapolis to go along with 128 touchdowns and eight straight seasons of double digit touchdown numbers.
He was truly one of the greatest receivers of the era.
However, after his de facto retirement, shady dealings started to emerge, as he was accused of shooting a man outside of his own business in North Philadelphia. It was confirmed that a gun owned by Harrison was used to shoot the victim.
About a year after the initial shooting, the same man was found dead just a few blocks away from a car wash owned by Harrison, apparently shot, again by, you guessed it, Harrison's gun.
The FBI is currently still investigating the shooting.
4. Michael Vick
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No matter how hard he tries, no matter how may apologies he issues or speeches he gives against animal cruelty, Michael Vick will forever be known as the dogfighting guy.
The reports that came out were so heinous that it is hard to forget what happened.
There is no question that Vick has reinvented himself as a football player, but there will forever be the shadow of his life prior to Philadelphia following him around, and there are people out there who never want him to forget it.
3. Ray Lewis
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Ray Lewis is one of the most vicious and malicious people in the NFL. Unfortunately, he doesn't leave that persona on the field.
During a Super Bowl party in 2000, Lewis and two friends allegedly got into an altercation with a group of people, ending with two people stabbed to death.
Lewis vehemently denied the charge and flipped on his two accomplices in exchange for a lesser charge of obstruction of justice.
He was given a year of probation and the biggest fine ever lobbied by the NFL, $250,000.
He was sued by the victim's daughter four years later in civil court, a case which he settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
There will always be the question with Lewis whenever his name comes up. Did Ray Lewis kill somebody?
2. Lawrence Taylor
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As I said before, Taylor is easily one of the best defensive players ever to play football at any level of the game.
Unfortunately his alcohol abuse, countless rehab stints, cocaine addiction, and recent statutory rape case are the legacy that he leaves behind.
He was even quoted as saying about retirement, "I saw coke as the only bright spot in my future," and he ain't talkin' about coca-cola there folks.
There have been countless other black spots on a career that should shine brighter than most, but can't with all of the negatives that have been attached to it.
1. O.J Simpson
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There are many today who don't even know that O.J Simpson played football; they know him as the alleged murderer, and not as The Juice.
On June 12th, 1994 Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman were found dead outside of her condo. One chase in a Ford Bronco, a year long trial, an ill-fitting glove, and a civil-case in which O.J was ordered to pay $33 million later, and O.J is now no longer The Juice.
He put the icing on the cake with a tax evasion case, battery, burglary, drug possession, money laundering, boat speeding, television pirating and another robbery charge in Las Vegas.
The final charge is the only one that netted jail time, and he is now serving 33 years in the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada.