New York Giants: 15 G-Men who changed the game forever

Odell Beckham, New York Giants. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Odell Beckham, New York Giants. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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New York Giants
Lawrence Taylor, New York Giants, (Photo by Mike Powell/Allsport/Getty Images) /

1 – Lawrence Taylor

How many men can be pointed to as someone who changed the way their sport is played due to their on-field performance? I’m not talking about minor adjustments like the baseball infield shift, I mean they actually changed the way their sport is played.

I can think of four. Lakers center George Mikan was the NBA’s first legitimate big man. Wayne Gretzky may be the best player of all-time, but Bobby Orr was the prototype for the puck rushing offensive defenseman in hockey. Finally, Sid Luckman from the Bears revolutionized the forward pass as a true weapon in the run-oriented NFL during the early 1940s.

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Then there is Lawrence Taylor. We talk of “freak of nature” athletes like Gronk, Herschel Walker, or Bo Jackson, but L.T. wasn’t just a physical freak of nature, he was a force of nature as well.

On Taylor’s ESPN SportsCentury biography, former North Carolina assistant football coach Bobby Cale said of Taylor’s ability:

"“As a freshman playing on special teams, he’d jump a good six or seven feet in the air to block a punt, then land on the back of his neck. He was reckless, just reckless.”"

Taylor was selected with the second overall pick in the 1981 NFL draft behind Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers from South Carolina, who went to New Orleans. The moment L.T. stepped on an NFL field, the rest of the league was in trouble.

He became the most feared pass rusher ever. When Taylor came into the backfield, running backs who normally picked up blitzing linebackers were manhandled on his way to the passer. When opponents tried to double with a tight end on the line. Taylor would just blow by. Then teams tried a tackle to block him, but L.T. was too fast.

Maybe John Madden summed it best in the same documentary.

"“Lawrence Taylor, defensively, has had as big an impact as any player I’ve ever seen. He changed the way defense is played, the way pass-rushing is played, the way linebackers play and the way offenses block linebackers.”"

There are books written about how L.T. changed football. Popular movie “The Blindside” is based on a book by Michael Lewis of the same name. The book version isn’t necessarily about Michael Oher rather it explains how the position of left tackle evolved to protect the quarterback’s blind side from pass rushers such as Lawrence Taylor.

Next. How the Odell Beckham trade impacts the Giants draft. dark

There were only two things that could stop Lawrence Taylor, Father Time and Taylor himself.  He lived much the way he played, in high gear, and his lifestyle prematurely ended his career.