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Original Issue

Giant Confessions The NFL Hall of Famer writes about sex, drugs and his suicidal thoughts

by Lawrence Taylor, with Steve Serby
HarperCollins, $24.95

Paul Tagliabue probably prefers that you not read New York Giants
great Lawrence Taylor's second autobiography, LT: Over the Edge
(written with New York Post columnist Serby). After a crusade led
by the NFL commissioner to try and rid the airwaves last month of
ESPN's stereotype-reinforcing pro football drama Playmakers,
along comes a book by one of the game's icons detailing a life
far more drug-addled and pornographic than any presented on the
TV series.

Taylor's new tome offers up a variety of scandalous tales from
his playing days: his rampant alcohol and drug abuse, which
sometimes stretched into the wee hours on game days; his
occasional strip-club pole dances; his habit of sending
prostitutes to the hotel rooms of opposing players the night
before games; and his swapping his urine for others' to avoid
positive drug tests. He also details his suicidal thoughts during
a descent into crack addiction following his retirement.

Yet Tags & Co. needn't worry. Yes, Taylor, a Hall of Fame outside
linebacker, is arguably the greatest defensive player of all
time. But no one looks at him as representative of the league;
his self-destructive behavior is in a class by itself, just as
his talent once was. Moreover, Taylor's decadeslong struggle with
addiction has been so painfully public that many of the stories
in the book, having previously served as tabloid grist, aren't
even that shocking. (LT smoked lots of crack? Wow.)

There are a few points of real interest, particularly Taylor's
description of playing for former Giants coach Bill Parcells.
Taylor recounts several instances in which Parcells--contrary to
his taskmaster image--let his star get away with loafing through
practices, missing bed checks and the like. Interestingly, Taylor
writes that when it came to discipline, "the only coach I had to
worry about was our defensive guru, Bill Belichick. He'd always
been a ballbuster." Taylor also writes that he refused to sign a
contract extension before the 1983 season unless the Giants
retained an apparently shaky Parcells, "[a]nd, surprise,
surprise, all of a sudden they love Bill."

Taylor's tone is self-aggrandizing, and his credibility often
stretches thin. After his description of having taken
"over-the-counter speed" to get up to play and of being found
passed out hours before a game after an all-night tequila binge,
his claim that he "never played when I was high" seems laughable.

Not that the commissioner is laughing. --Josh Elliott