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After an All-American career at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Lawrence Taylor was drafted by the Giants with the second overall selection in the 1981 NFL Draft. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Taylor was a disruptive force at outside linebacker, and is widely considered to have changed the pass rushing schemes, offensive line play, and offensive formations used in the NFL. Taylor produced double-digit sacks seasons consecutively from 1984 through 1990, including a career high of 20.5 in 1986. He also won three Defensive Player of the Year awards and was named the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP) for his performance in the 1986 season. He was named first-team All-Pro in each of his first nine seasons and was a key member of the Giants' defense, nicknamed "The Big Blue Wrecking Crew", that led New York to Super Bowl XXI and XXV victories.
Taylor's NFL rookie season included 9.5 sacks and is often considered to have had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history. Taylor was named 1981's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press, becoming to date the only rookie to ever win the Defensive Player of the Year award.
In 1986 Taylor had one of the most successful seasons by a defensive player in the history of the NFL. Taylor recorded a league-leading 20.5 sacks and became the second defensive players to win the NFL Most Valuable Player award and be a consensus MVP. In addition, Taylor won the Defensive Player of the Year Award. The Giants finished the season 14-2 and dominated their opposition in the NFC playoffs, beating San Francisco and Washington by a combined score of 66-3. Taylor appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated alone the week leading up to Super Bowl XXI with a warning from the magazine to the Denver Broncos regarding Taylor. In Super Bowl XXI, after overcoming a slow start, the Giants cruised past the Denver Broncos 39-20.
By the time Taylor retired, he had amassed 1,088 tackles, 132.5 sacks, 9 interceptions, 134 return yards, 2 touchdowns, 33 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries, and 34 fumble return yards. He was selected to 10 Pro Bowls, was named All-Pro 10 times, was selected to the 1980's All Decade Team, and had his number (56) retired by the New York Giants.
After his retirment from football, Taylor was an analyst for many shows and appeared on several television shows and movies. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2009, he appeared on season eight of Dancing With The Stars.
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