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(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

In celebration of his birthday, ESNY spoke to New York Giants icon Lawrence Taylor about his two Super Bowl wins and what he’s doing now.

As he hit his cigar –- a Perdomo tenth anniversary -– Lawrence Taylor chuckled. As someone who was also born on the fourth of February, I wished him a happy birthday when we spoke earlier this week. Taylor turns 62 today but remains the most iconic player in the history of the New York Giants.

Looking back, now 30 years removed from his second Super Bowl victory, Taylor has an appreciation for the journey it took to get there and the players with whom he shared those incredible rides.

Two rings

“The 1986 Giants were a dominant team,” he said. “The 1990 team wasn’t the same team as ’86 was. We dominated in ’86. That team was better than 1990, but we hung together. We were there for each other. We played for each other. When we sit back now and look back at who we played in those playoffs and all the stuff we went through, we stayed together.”

Taylor fondly remembers the steps along the way. The Giants had to go through the San Francisco 49ers in both postseasons. They blew the Niners out on their way to the Super Bowl after the 1986 season but needed a late rally and field goal to win the NFC Championship Game in 1991. Ironically, it was a missed field goal that handed them the Lombardi Trophy in the Super Bowl.

According to Taylor, beating the 49ers was the game.

“Once we won the game against San Francisco, the Super Bowl was gravy,” he said with a laugh.

Getting to the game might have been gravy, but when Taylor looks back at those runs, there’s one moment that sticks out.

After they beat the Niners, the Giants got on a plane and went straight to Tampa Bay for preparations and practice for the Super Bowl. They didn’t even go home after the game. Thus, the entire experience leading into his second Super Bowl was a whirlwind.

But when they stepped onto the field, it got real.

“When Whitney Houston was doing the national anthem –- that was a defining moment,” Taylor recalled. “We looked at each other and said ‘shit, we’re all in this together.’ That really sticks out to me.”

Lawrence Taylor
AP Photo

In it together – still

Those Giants teams bonded in so many ways that it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re still close today. Taylor is now involved in a number of business ventures with Ottis “OJ” Anderson and Mark Bavaro, both long time teammates in New York.

One business they’ve started to work with is Tridelix, a company that makes unique sports memorabilia. As Taylor points out, why stick with a traditional photo when you can have a beautiful 5D image of a player?

According to Taylor, they’re also in the process of launching a trading card company.

“Our partner has so many cards and so much memorabilia when we looked at it, the industry is going off the hook right now,” he said. “There is big money in it. We’ll be in the top sports: basketball, baseball, and football.”

Whether it’s memorabilia or on the golf course, Taylor is keeping himself busy and his Giants teammates are still an important part of his life.

The Game Today

Taylor is one of the most feared players in the history of the NFL. He changed the way defenses rush the passer, and that changed the way offense is played at every level.

So how does Taylor view the game today?

He looks at the way offenses are played and admits it’s a different game now. Quarterbacks didn’t throw the ball 40 or 50 times per game when Taylor was on the field (perhaps because of players like himself). But LT noted that with the way rules have changed in the NFL, it’s harder to check receivers.

With the increased volume in league-wide passing, should a defense load up its pass rush or add bodies to the secondary?

“My thinking: I’m bringing more people,” Taylor said. “All those quarterbacks are the same when they’re laying on their ass.”

The game may have changed but the legacy of Taylor has not, and will not. The only part of his game that was as impressive as his speed off the edge was his enormous smile, which flashed frequently when he was standing above an opposing quarterback.

So on this Feb. 4, we wish the greatest of all Giants a very happy birthday. Here’s to many more, LT!