They still don’t. They are being honored for their individual greatness, but both know there’s a void in their experiences. Both know they never won a Super Bowl. And both tackle the issue as if it were a chubby, slow running back.
“I’m not going to go through the list of quote-unquote mistakes on whether [the team] should have picked this person or that person to get better,” Taylor said. “I’m not going to go through that mess. But I will say, I would love to change that we didn’t win a championship. I would give everything else up just to win a championship.”
Would Taylor, sixth on the all-time sack list with 139.5, give up a chance at the Hall of Fame?
“The Hall of Fame is no guarantee,” he said. “But the Defensive Player of the Year award, I have that. You can have that back. I’ll give you the NFL Man of the Year award. I’ll give you whatever else.
“I won’t give you all 139 sacks, but I’d give you 100 of them. Give me a championship. And I’m not talking about just being on the team that wins a championship, but having a meaningful impact with us in our prime and playing the way we were and have a championship to show for it?
“I’d make that trade.”
Thomas, sitting next to his brother-in-law, nods agreement.
“We’re on the same page on that one,” he said. “It’s why you play the game.”
The game has moved on, and so have the pair. But the last week has been filled with emotion for Thomas and Taylor. Both took a drive to the Dolphins practice facility on Tuesday so they could meet Dolphins coach Joe Philbin and do some interviews.
And the moment they walked in those familiar doors and saw the place where they spent so many days, years, so many years really, the memories suddenly came rushing back.
“This place was like home,” said Taylor after Philbin treated him and Thomas to a tour of the refurbished facility. “I spent more time here than I did at my own house. So you know every crack and crevice. Every place you can go to get a cellphone signal. You learn everything about this place.”
“It relights a fire for sure,” Thomas said in that familiar easy drawl. “I lived up here. And the way they’ve remodeled this place, wow, I would have stayed even longer every day. I would have brought a cot or something.
“To see some of the same people in the operations end of things, that felt good. You really miss those things. It’s not just the games that you miss when you stop playing. It’s about the relationships. It’s good to get back up here. I’m going to have problems when I go home, having to turn that switch off again.”
If a short trip to a training facility does that, imagine how Taylor and Thomas will feel Sunday when they stand at the 50-yard-line of a field they basically owned for so many years and have their names unveiled on the Honor Roll.
That’s the show Sunday.
Yes, the Rams and Dolphins are playing a game. Yes, the home team is trying to get to .500. But game results can fade. This day will never fade for Taylor and Thomas.
“For me, before Sunday, it was a prized moment to look out into the stands and see people wearing my jersey,” Thomas said. “And now, to know that my name is going to be up there, it’s awesome. It means a lot to me. It’ll mean a lot to my family.”
“I had a friend, and it was a very famous guy, tell me that celebrity is fleeting,” Taylor added. “But your performance lasts a lifetime. And that’s what my name being in that stadium will do. It will solidify that my performance for those 13 to 15 years will last a lifetime. And that’s pretty cool to me.
“You know, my kids had a chance to see me play. My two boys remember me playing; they remember guys on the team. They were talking last Sunday about Paul Soliai because they were in the locker room one time and Paul gave them a Gatorade and Randy Starks was throwing the football around with them and Cameron Wake walked by and messed up their hair. These are things my kids remember.
“But one day my kids will go in the stadium and look up and say, ‘My hero was pretty good at football, too.’ ”