When I turn on ESPN these days, I keep hearing "LT" this and "LT" that.
It stirs my interest immediately.
When I realize they're talking about San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, though, my interest becomes a bit tempered.
I realize LaDainian Tomlinson's initials are LT; I'm not that ignorant. Nor am I ignorant enough to believe that those initials will always be associated only with him.
You see, there was this guy in the 1980s and 90s who played for the New York Giants. His name was Lawrence Taylor. We called him LT.
He came into the NFL in 1981 and completely changed the fortunes of the downtrodden Giants.
He also revolutionized the way the linebacker position was played, and forever altered the way it was perceived.
Taylor was as dominant a defender as the game has ever seen. Opposing teams would spend a good portion of the week planning exclusively for him. Quarterbacks would call timeouts just to slow him down.
In one case, the Eagles' Ron Jawowski called a timeout when he couldn't account for Taylor across the line of scrimmage. It just so happened that LT had lost his shoe on the previous play, and had gone to the bench to put it back on.
That's the kind of impact he had.
Taylor is hands-down the greatest football player I've ever seen—and I've seen a quite a few. Granted, he's had his run-ins with the law, and his transgressions include multiple drugs and alcohol-related incidents...but his on-field exploits may never be equaled.
Taylor is the only defensive player to win league MVP in the last 36 years. His legacy is very much alive today, even though he hasn't played a down in the NFL since 1993.
His name comes up every Draft Day, as teams are always looking for "the next LT." Needless to say, that player hasn't surfaced yet.
Like Wayne Gretzky in hockey and Larry Bird or Michael Jordan in basketball, Taylor was a once-in-a-lifetime athlete.
I mean no disrespect to the current LT, because he's great too. But no matter what Tomlinson goes on to accomplish in his career, when someone refers to "LT," I'll always think of Lawrence Taylor first.