Lawrence Taylor won’t be giving the Giants a pregame speech at the team hotel on Saturday night or in the visiting locker room at FedEx Field on Sunday night.
But he will implore the 2022 Giants defense to play themselves the kind of game he always played as the ringleader of a bunch of crazed dogs in so many do-or-die games on his way to the Hall of Fame with this:
“Show me some nuts!”
Bill Parcells never had to worry or wonder about the mentality that his beloved LT would play with under similar circumstances: prime-time game, playoffs on the line, the whole country watching.
“You just said it,” Taylor told The Post. “It’s a prime-time game, the playoffs are on the line. You just said everything you need to know about that game. Everything else is just preparation. Let’s do this, OK? Let’s do this. You already know what’s at stake, all right? If you can’t play when everything you ever dreamed of and everything that you want is put into one game, if you can’t rise to that challenge, then what’s left?
“These games define who you are.”
He defined himself as The Closer in the fourth quarter. Who showed anyone who dared to stay in his path of destruction some nuts.
“In the course of the game there’s only seven-10 plays that make a difference,” Taylor said. “And you sit there and say, ‘Somebody gotta do something, they’re kicking our ass’ and s–t like that. You know what? The person that stands up and says, ‘Hey, OK, I’ll volunteer. I’ll do it,’ those are the guys to make it happen. Those are the guys that’s going to have notoriety in the league and stuff because when there’s a play to be made, they don’t designate it to somebody else. They do it themselves.
“I wanted to be that person to make the play, so that’s what I’m gonna do. And if I made the play, all the spoils come to me. Seize the opportunity to show what you are all about. Do or die, who’s gonna stand up and make the play?”
LT loved playing against Washington because his father rooted for them and because it was always a violent slugfest with John Riggins and the Hogs.
“They’re gonna run it, they’re gonna throw it, and they’re gonna test you all the way to the end of the game,” Taylor said. “I loved that. There’s no daggone San Francisco s–t where they throw the ball back to the quarterback and he throws it down the field. Ain’t none of that bulls–t. It’s straight football.”
Joe Gibbs called on 6-foot-7, 295-pound left tackle Joe Jacoby to keep LT from wrecking the game.
“For the first couple of years he did nothing but kick my ass until I daggone figured out how to play him,” Taylor said, “and from then to the end of my career, he was not a problem.”
LT was a problem for Joe Theismann one fateful Monday night in 1985. Theismann suffered a broken leg so gruesome that Taylor still refuses to watch replays.
“I’m not that type of person that likes to watch stuff like that,” he said. “To this day I have never seen the play. When it comes up to that point, I’ll be able to fast forward, I don’t want to see it.”
He doesn’t like reflecting on it. “It is what it is,” Taylor said. “Everybody’s playing hard. He got himself caught up in a bad position. His leg was between me and the football, and that’s gonna be a problem.”
LT was visibly distraught when it happened and called for the medical team on the Washington sideline. He remembers Theismann being carted off and yelling out: “LT, LT, I’ll be back.” To which LT replied: “But not tonight!”
He called Theismann in the hospital. “We spoke the next morning,” Taylor said. “I talked to his wife before I talked to him.”
He and Theismann see each other several times each year and have a good relationship. “I hate to see anybody get hurt in this game,” Taylor said. “And listen — he should be kissing my ass because he had a Lloyd’s of London policy that paid him about $4 million when we weren’t making $4 million as a football player.”
A sweeter memory against Washington was the 17-0 shutout in the 1986 NFC Championship game at a blustery Giants Stadium. Taylor remembers the confetti falling and the feeling of exhilaration because the Giants were going to the Super Bowl.
“What a great game that was,” Taylor said. “Sean Landeta was MVP of that game. If it wasn’t for Sean Landeta and his punting skills, we wouldn’t have won that game.”
That sent the Giants to Pasadena … where every last one of them, starting with Phil Simms, showed John Elway and the Broncos some nuts.
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