By Barry Janoff
September 17, 2013: Lawrence Taylor last played linebacker for the New York Giants in 1993. His reputation as one of the most intimidating athletes in NFL history remains intact.
What also has become part of Taylor's legacy, however, are his off-field transgressions, including drugs, bad investments and a divorce.
In 2011, Taylor pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years probation relating to the misdemeanor charges of sexual misconduct and having sex with a 16-year-old without her consent. He also had to register as a sex offender.
On Friday, Showtime will air the broadcast premiere of LT:The Life & Times. It is described as the first extensive look into Taylor's life, including first-person stories from family and friends, and former coaches and teammates such as Phil Simms, Carl Banks and Harry Carson.
"My closet is so full of ghosts that my closet has closets," Taylor said during a media conference call on Tuesday (Sept. 17) to help promote the documentary. "But I am past the stage of worrying what other people think of me. It's not like 15 or 20 years ago. I've gotten past that."
Taylor, who is married to his second wife and is a father and grandfather, called his time in front of the camera an "interrogation."
"Why now regarding this documentary? That's a good question," said Taylor. "Many people have asked me to do films or documentaries. I've always said no."
But he admitted that the time was right for the tell-all documentary. (See the trailer here.)
"People who criticize me don't know me," he said. "They know of me. They may have heard of me. But they don't know what makes me tick. What make me cry. What I do when I leave my house other than go to the golf course. [Laughs.]. Maybe when they see this documentary they will know me a little bit better and understand what I've been through."
Taylor played for the Giants from 1981-1993, was a member of two Super Bowl championship teams (XXI, XXV), was named to the Pro Bowl ten times and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999. He also was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team, the 1980's All-Decade Team and had his No. 56 retired by the Giants.
He remains attached to the game, and speaks as a person who has been in the trenches when he talks about changes that have occurred.
"The NFL used to be a game not for the weak of heart, not for the weak of mind. You had to want to hit.," said Taylor. "Now it's become a game where (raises his voice a couple of octaves) everyone can play. It's like basketball in gym class. (He raises the pitch of his voice again.) Everyone can play. That's why you don't see football in gym class. Not everyone can play.
"People who criticize me don't know me. They know of me. They may have heard of me. But they don't know what makes me tick."
"Could I play today under the new rules? Yes. I'm an athlete. You still have to be an athlete. You have to do all the things I need to do."
Taylor is reflective when it comes to his life and times, be it in the documentary or in person.
"I don't apologize for my life. It is what it is," the 54-year-old Taylor said. "I've had a pretty good life. Would I have done anything different? Of course. I would have done a lot of things different. But if I had to do it again, and the people in my life who are important to me were not there, then I would not do it again and not do it any different."
LT: The Life & Times is a CBS Sports production, was directed by Pete Radovich and is narrated by Jon Bon Jovi. CBS Sports has been running a five-part Webisode series as a behind-the-scenes preview of the documentary.
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