Monday, May 10, 2010

L.egal T.rouble

By Tony Mangia


It's not surprising about the mess ex-Giants and football icon, Lawrence Taylor, got himself into last week---it's the sheer stupidity. Taylor's fast, blitzing style of play not only pleased fans but that same recklessness has also followed him off the field too. The alleged rape of a sixteen year-old girl in an upstate New York Holiday Inn was the latest in a long-line of the ex-linebacker's criminal offenses and convictions. The "runaway" was dropped off at Taylor's room by a pimp who allegedly punched her for, at first, refusing to go. What did Taylor do after he was done with her? He gave the beaten and black-eyed girl $300, sent her on her way, and hit the hay. The girl notified her uncle of the alleged rape and he called the authorities. Police said Taylor was sound asleep when they knocked on his hotel room door a few hours later. He was denied a request to use the bathroom and was led away in handcuffs.

Taylor was charged with third-degree rape and solicitation of a prostitute and is out on $75,000 bail. His attorney, Arthur Aidala, denied the charges and claimed Taylor was a "family man" and "he didn't know the girl was underage." Any time those two phrases are mentioned in the same breath, something just can't be right. "As with any celebrity, Mr. Taylor is a target," Aidala claimed. That same notoriety is what charmed courts and kept him from prison in the past.

Taylor's battles with drug and alcohol demons are well documented. He admitted smoking crack the night before games and beating drug tests by using other people's "clean urine." His play on the field had many players and coaches overlook any infractions that occurred. Fans adored his roving, balls-out play. The more devastating a hit, the better. There wasn't a bar or night club where he didn't have drinks lined up and paid for by his admirers. He WAS that vaunted Giants defense which won two Super Bowls--tough and unyielding---just like his persona and lifestyle. The crime that prosecutors are now charging Taylor with now is so repulsive that none of his past supporters can say anything. What's scary is most people don't seem to put it past Taylor. His open admissions of his past trangressions have come back to haunt him. Giants owner, John Mara refused to comment on the charges and all that his ex-teammates can say is that they thought he cleaned up his life. Taylor's current, and third, wife called it a "setup."

Most Valuable Prisoner

It's been over ten years since Taylor was arrested for drugs. He claimed in his book," LT:Over the Edge", he would go through $1000 worth of crack in a night. He was busted for buying cocaine from an undercover agent in 1996, but police reported finding no drugs in his hotel room in the latest incident---only a bottle of liquor. In 2009, he was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident---then driving two miles without a front tire and, before that, tax evasion charges and bankruptcy.

There aren't a lot of things that haven't been said about L.T. in the media. It all comes down to too much. Too much adulation. Too much partying. Too many incidents. Taylor is not some tragic figure who deserves our pity. He needs help plain and simple. In a best case scenario, Taylor's claim he unwittingly paid for an underage prostitute will be proven. Not much light at the end of that tunnel--a light jail sentence and divorce--if he's lucky. The roar of thousands at Giants Stadium now becomes the silent stares of twelve of his peers in a jury gallery.

There is talk of banishing Hall of Fame members for criminal actions. Where do you start? The violence of football is glorified as macho--a man's sport. Its what separates the members of Canton from the run-of-the-mills. Does a DUI constitute banishment? How about assaults and drug convictions? How do you distinguish the man on the field from the man off it? The 1986 NFL MVP has been given many chances and Taylor seemed to benefit from them. This time a young girl is involved in the most sordid of crimes---rape. Lawrence Taylor has let down too many people for too long. If he is found guilty, even the most ardent fan will find it hard to remember Taylor as a gifted athlete. He will get his day in court and, this time, it seems even the staunchest of a Lawrence Taylor goal-line stand may not help.

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