Who would you put on a Mount Rushmore of best NFL defensive players ever? Well if you’re Lawrence Taylor, J.J. Watt would be on there.
The Houston Chronicle noted Taylor’s bold claims about the Texans’ defensive star.
“That J.J. Watt is a bad SOB,” Taylor said Saturday during an appearance at Fiterman Sports Memorabilia at Baybrook Mall. “He’s going to get it a couple of more times.
“I think he’s one of these guys that only comes around once every 20 to 30 years.”
Taylor and Watt are the only two players in NFL history ever to be voted the NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times. Taylor won his three in 1981, 1982, and 1986 when he was 22, 23, and 27 respectively. Watt won his three in 2012, 2014, and 2015 when he was 23, 25, and 26 respectively.
The former Giants’ linebacker is now 57 and played in the league for 13 years from 1981-1993. Unlike Watt, his resume includes a couple things Watt is chasing: a Super Bowl ring (two actually: XXI, XXV) and a bust in Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While he posed for pictures and signed autographs at a recent event, Taylor couldn’t stop talking about the Texans’ star defensive end, which led to his bold claims about Watt’s place in history.
“In front of me I see guys like Reggie White (and) Deacon Jones,” he said. “Do I put J.J. in front of me? No, but the guy is a phenomenal player. He can go down as one of the best players to ever play his position.
“Every time I watch film on him or I see a game he’s playing in, the first thing that comes to my mind is this guy can go all day.”
While Watt may be one of the best defensive ends ever, he hasn’t been recognized as the most valuable player in the league in a single season. Taylor was named the NFL’s MVP after the 1986 season when he won his first ring and the Giants’ first Lombardi Trophy. Watt has come close however, finishing second to Aaron Rodgers in the 2014 MVP voting.
That very year, Taylor says he took on a lot of pressure from others around the league and in the media.
“The year I won MVP we won the Super Bowl. They wanted to call me the greatest defensive player of all time. He can put up numbers, and he can be one of the greatest players that ever played (but), you’ve got to be able to take your team to a title.”
Watt has never made it past the divisional round of the playoffs with Houston. In 2011, the Texans lost to the Ravens in the divisional round and the next season, they lost to the Patriots in the same round. In his only other playoff appearance, Watt failed to lead the Texans past the Chiefs in a 2015 Wild Card matchup.
When asked about what separates Watt from the rest, Taylor pointed out his personality and work ethic.
“What I like about him is his motor, his intensity,” Taylor said. “He doesn’t like to lose. He just goes and goes and goes.”
Watt’s defensive coordinator right now is Romeo Crennel, who was an assistant with the Giants when Taylor played in New York.
“He’s actually (getting some) real good tutelage,” Taylor said. “I played under Romeo, and I know what type of work ethic he has.”
Whether that work ethic could eventually result in Taylor saying Watt is better than he ever was remains to be seen. But at least for now, Taylor will continue to watch and be amazed by what Watt does every Sunday.