Jason Taylor has tapped Jimmy Johnson as his opening act at August’s Hall of Fame enshrinement, paying the ultimate compliment to the coach who gave Taylor his big break back in 1997.
“He took a chance on an undersized defensive end and never looked back,” Taylor said in a video explaining why he asked Johnson to present him. “He gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Johnson was in his second year as coach of the Dolphins when he selected the lanky Taylor with the 73rd overall pick. Taylor rewarded that faith by recording five sacks as a rookie, and eight more in Year 2.
Taylor and Johnson spent just three years together before the latter’s retirement from football, but the Dolphins’ newest Hall of Famer never forgot the impact his first NFL coach had on his career.
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“I really took my time with this decision, but the more I thought about it, the same name always goes to the top of the list,” Taylor said. “So I'm excited and honored to tell you that my presenter this August will be the guy that believed in me from Day 1.”
Taylor added: “Coach, thank you, and I look forward to seeing you in Canton.”
Taylor, who finished his career with 139 1/2 sacks, the seventh-most in NFL history, is a first-ballot selection to the Hall. He will be enshrined on Aug. 5, along with kicker Morten Andersen, running back Terrell Davis, safety Kenny Easley, owner, president and general manager Jerry Jones, running back LaDainian Tomlinson and quarterback Kurt Warner.
Johnson, who won a collegiate national championship at the University of Miami in 1987 and two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, has been a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the past, but has not yet been voted in.
“Honored to present @JasonTaylor in HOF,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “1 of the most talented players I ever recruited or coached..He made plays that WON games!”