It’s hard to figure out which surprised Hall-of-Famer Jason Taylor more — his election as a first-ballot choice or a letter recommending that election from New England quarterback Tom Brady.
Taylor frankly admits he never expected to be chosen to the Hall in his first year of eligibility — saying he had “zero expectations of making it.” Yet make it he did, joining Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Deacon Jones and Gino Marchetti as the only first-ballot Hall-of-Fame defensive ends.
“I’m still in a little bit of shock, a little bit of surprise, a little bit of awe,” he said.
But he could be talking about the support he gained from an unexpected source, too, and would Tom Brady please step forward?
Taylor never expected that, either, and for good reason: Brady’s former teammate, Ty Law, was another Hall-of-Fame finalist who played the majority of his career with New England, while Taylor played the majority of his career with Miami.
But that we know.
What we don’t is why Brady – who won three Super Bowls with Law and is good friend of the Patriots’ cornerback – wrote a letter of recommendation to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and its voters … for Jason Taylor and not Law.
But he did, and Law – who was a Top-10 finisher in his first try as finalist — jokingly asked us to pose that question to Taylor. So we did on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast.
“That’s a good question,” said Taylor. “You know what the beauty of that is? I didn’t even ask Tom for it.
“He and I had a great friendship throughout our playing days. Obviously, we played against each other a ton. I probably played 25 or 26 games against Tommy … maybe more, I don’t even know the number of games. We’ve always had this healthy rivalry between the two of us. We would go at it, compete hard and we were great friends off the field.
“I was floored when I saw the letter. I really was. Seth Levit, the director of my foundation (the Jason Taylor Foundation) and office here in Florida, actually texted me that Tom had sent a letter in. I guess Seth had been talking to the people in New England and got the letter down here, and I was floored. It means the world to me.
“I know Ty played with him, and Ty was kinda like, ‘What? Brady wrote you a letter?’ But it is one of those things where I will take it and frame it. I got a letter and words from Jimmy Johnson … I’m looking at what Bill Polian had to say … and all these clips of guys who had amazing things to say about me, and I want to take them all and keep them forever.
“But that Tom Brady letter … a text I got from Peyton Manning the other night … the list goes on of guys that have reached out that I want to save forever. I don’t trust this cloud. Whatever this cloud is … this I-cloud thing, I need to go back and put it on pen and paper and keep it somewhere in my house.”