After apologizing for being late for a press conference at the Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Thursday, Taylor tried to put into words what obviously are some strong emotions.
“I still have not grasped it yet because it’s been a whirlwind,” Taylor said. “As you can see, I’m way behind schedule as I’m here an hour late. I owe a lot of people thanks and this will all go on over the next six, seventh months, (I’ll) get a chance to thank everybody, hopefully individually but if I don’t see them, I’ll have a speech in Canton and touch on them there.
“I couldn’t be happier, I couldn’t be more surprised. (It’s) obviously a huge honor. It’s the pinnacle of what we do in professional sports, the pinnacle of professional football. I can’t be more elated to be in the Hall of Fame with the other nine Miami Dolphins that are there.”
Taylor was elected Saturday to be part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017, which also includes LaDainian Tomlinson, Kurt Warner, Kenny Easley, Jerry Jones, Terrell Davis and Morten Andersen.
Before answering questions at his press conference, Taylor took the time to thank those he said helped him earned football’s ultimate individual honor. He started with Dan Marino, who was on hand for the press conference.
“When I came in in ’97, I used to sit across the locker room and look at Dan knowing who he was, what he was, what he meant to Miami and to the National Football League,” Taylor said. “I’m not on Dan’s level, but I’m a Hall of Famer like Dan Marino and that just blows my mind.”
Also on hand at the Dolphins facility Thursday was five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Sam Madison.
“I said this in Houston at the press conference, with Sam Madison and Pat Surtain playing defense, playing man-to-man defense on the outside, I could teach anybody in this room how to get to the quarterback,” Taylor said to the assembled media. “When you get eight, nine seconds to get there and make plays, it makes it so much easier. Zach Thomas, Tim Bowens, Trace Armstrong, the list goes on of guys. I don’t want to exclude anybody. The guys that I played with over the years, offensively and defensively, made this possible.
“There’s so many things we take away from different teammates, no matter what side of the ball they’re on. I always said I was the lucky recipient of making plays and getting the chance to stand up in front of the media and talk about it and get my picture out there, my name out there and all that, but there are some guys that really, really grind that don’t get credit, that don’t get seen, that don’t show up on the stat sheet.”
Taylor said the Hall of Fame experience last weekend was even sweeter because his sons, Mason and Isaiah, were there to share it with him.
Taylor found time to thank Dolphins historian Harvey Greene, Senior Director of Digital and Print Media Scott Stone, and Seth Levit, the executive director of the Jason Taylor Foundation, while also mentioning his Hall of Fame presenter, Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald.
“As I said, (I’m) still trying to figure it all out, but as everyone has told me since then that I keep telling, they can’t take it back now,” Taylor said. “Those 48 selectors, I owe them all dinner, whoever voted for me.
“I want to thank (Dolphins Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Mike Tannenbaum and everybody here with the organization for always making me feel at home. This is home for 13 of my 15 years, and even when I played for the Jets and for Washington, this was always home. I could always come back here. This is home, guys.
“I can’t even put it into words how much this means to me as a player, as an individual, as a Miami Dolphin, to my family and all the hundreds and hundreds of teammates that I’ve had throughout the years. My bust is going to be in Canton, but Sam Madison, Dan Marino, Pat Surtain, Zach Thomas, Richmond Webb — another guy that should be in Canton — Timbo (Tim Bowens), Daryl Gardener, Adewale Ogunleye, the list goes on of guys who are all a piece of that bust as well. Because without them, there is no me.”