Two men share the record for most NFL defensive player of the year awards: Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt.
They each have three. Taylor thinks Watt will own the record by himself before he's done.
"That J.J. Watt is a bad SOB," Taylor told the Houston Chronicle. "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."
Strangely enough, 20 to 30 years ago is when Taylor was wrecking offensive tackles as an outside linebacker with the New York Giants. Since Watt is playing at an unprecedented level — he has tied the record for most defensive player of the year awards in just five seasons — the conversation about Watt perhaps becoming the greatest defensive player in NFL history has started. Rightfully so.
Taylor holds that distinction to many people. But L.T. wouldn't pick himself.
"In front of me I see guys like Reggie White (and) Deacon Jones," Taylor told the Chronicle. "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."
It's hard to put Watt ahead of Taylor (or Jones or White) already, and as Taylor pointed out in the article he won a couple Super Bowls (Watt hasn't been to one, though you're nuts if you think that's his fault) and an NFL MVP award (Watt was robbed of one in 2014). But let's say Watt does get two more defensive player of the year awards, like Taylor predicted. Considering only Taylor has three, and only Joe Greene, Mike Singletary, Bruce Smith, Reggie White and Ray Lewis have won two, Watt's five awards would stand out in any argument about best ever.
Watt has 74.5 sacks in his first five seasons. Taylor, as great as he was, had 50.5 sacks through five seasons. There have been just seven instances in which a player has recorded more than 20 sacks in a season and Watt has two of them. In NFL history, there are 33 instances of a player recording 17.5 or more sacks in a season, and Watt has done it three times in five years. There's no questioning Watt's dominance. It's just a matter of trying to place him in history after just five seasons. But he's already up there.
Taylor doesn't think Watt is at his level, and that's fair. But his "bad SOB" comment is practically a blessing from NFL royalty. Who knows, if Watt's next five years are like his first five, maybe even the great L.T. will adjust his personal rankings.
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