COSTA MESA, Calif. — Peronally, I couldn’t care less whether Lawrence Taylor shows up for anything. But for the second day in a row, he waltzed in late to the Super Bowl breakfast interviews, this time with just 10 minutes left in the 45-minute session, again breaking his promise that he would not come at all. This indicates a man with a bad watch, a man who can’t remember what he says, or a jerk.
Let’s see . . .
“Lawrence,” a reporter began, after the Giants’ linebacker dropped his large frame into a chair. “Were you a little reluctant to show up today?”
“Next question,” Taylor said, staring blankly through his sunglasses.
“How did your workout go yesterday, L.T.?”
“Pretty good,” he said in a monotone. “Anything else?”
“Lawrence, are you feeling OK?”
“Am I feeling OK?” He leaned forward. “Whatcha mean am I feeling OK?”
“Well, I, uh . . . ” the reporter stammered.
“It’s 9:30 in the morning, you know.” He leaned back again. “I don’t feel very good this early. Maybe I’m getting sick.”
The reporters, who had boarded buses at 7:30 a.m. to get to this hotel, merely squirmed. “Why did you decide to show up?” someone finally asked, speaking for most of us.
“I decided I didn’t want to get fined,” Taylor said. “So I came for the last 10 minutes.”
“What would the fine have been?”
He looked off toward the corner of the room.
“I don’t know. Next question.”A $5,000 incentive
Lawrence Taylor is on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, described there as “That Big, Bad New York Linebacker.” He is enormously gifted. He could be a key player Sunday.
Yet, because he has mastered that noble talent of knocking the hell out of somebody, he acts, at times, like the rest of the world has to make an appointment for his breath. In New York, he likes to orchestrate his press relations. When Taylor says he’ll talk, the reporters swarm. When Taylor says he’s not talking, they stay away. When Taylor says a subject is off- limits — like his six-month drug rehabilitation, or a paternity suit brought against him — it is off-limits.
But here, before the world’s sports media, he was not awarded such star treatment. He — like his teammates — was supposed to show up for the week’s three media sessions. Each took all of 45 minutes. He made the first, then said “that’s it,” as if someone cared.
When he showed for Wednesday’s session, he said it was only to avoid a fine of “at least $5,000, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.” No one, besides Taylor, was able to determine who threatened him with such a fine. No matter.
“I won’t be there tomorrow,” he said.
And he showed again. Same story.
“Are you just anxious to get the game started?” he was asked.
“Yeah, I’m tired of all this stuff.” He put his elbows on the table and hunched his shoulders.”What time is it?”
Across the room, the other Giants were speaking casually with the press. Some, like quarterback Phil Simms, had large groups around them, while others, like offensive lineman Chris Godfrey, had just one or two reporters. Several were laughing. Others mugged for the TV cameras. It didn’t look too tough. Mostly, it looked like fun.
“What’s the most fun you’ve had here, L.T.?”
“Playing backgammon or something,” said the man who has been known to enjoy the nightlife. “There ain’t been much fun out here.”Is asininity required?
The rap on this Super Bowl is that it’s dull, at least compared to last year’s Chicago Bears-fest. But who says stupid behavior is mandatory? Almost to a man, the Broncos and Giants have been co-operative and genuinely happy to be here. John Elway, the Broncos’ quarterback — with twice as many people after him as Taylor — has managed to smile. “I’m enjoying this,” he said. Why not? Two thousand people making you famous?
But Taylor — determined, it seems, to make something of himself (and certain words come to mind) — continues to come up with gems like these:
“You reporters must get up saying, ‘God, I got to think up a good silly question to ask these football players today.’ “
Sure we do. Who could resist?
The precious minutes passed. A new reporter leaned into the crowd, cleared his throat and again asked, “Lawrence, what made you change your mind about coming today?”
Taylor glared at him, then held his hands out for emphasis. “Look,” he said. “I’m here. Be happy.”
Not so fast, Lawrence. . . .
He got up, adjusted his sunglasses, said, “I gotta go,” and left.
OK . . .
Now we’re happy.