A Father’s Day for Hall of Famer Jason Taylor
Jason, tell us about your upbringing and formal education?
“I was actually homeschooled throughout high school. My mother served the duel role as parent and teacher and we would spend the mornings covering my academic responsibilities, and then I would hit the basketball courts or do work around our house, or odd jobs with some other families.”
When did your passion for football start? Did you have other athletes in your family?
“I didn’t know much about football growing up, and never played until my junior year of high school. George Novak, who was the football coach at our neighborhood high school saw me doing yard work one day and asked where I went to school. I explained that I was home schooled, but he still invited me to try out for the football team. I gave it a shot and looking back, I’m sure glad that I did!”
You had a very long and successful career with the Miami Dolphins. What was your favorite Dolphins memory?
“It’s really difficult to pinpoint any one particular memory given my 13-year career with the Dolphins. There were so many amazing moments that I treasure to this day, and quite honestly, moments that helped to make me the person who I am today. What I can say is that the relationships that I built and experiences that I enjoyed, particularly with the guys in the locker room, are irreplaceable. There is no place in the world like an NFL locker room and I miss it to this day.”
Now, that you are retired and are part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, what advice can you give to young kids that aspire to be a football player like you?
“The most important piece of advice that I feel I can offer to a young person aspiring to play professional football, or any sport, is to enjoy the journey. It is very easy to become hyper focused on the destination and lose sight of the moments that matter most. The hard truth is that making it to the NFL is in many ways like winning the lottery. While it takes a lot more hard work than buying the winning lotto ticket, the odds are against the millions and millions of youth and high school football players who participate in the sport on an annual basis. The game comes to an end for all of us at some point, and what you don’t want to have to do once it is over is to look back and wish you enjoyed it more. Make sure you enjoy each practice, each moment with your teammates, every bus ride, and every meeting. The smallest things that seem to be so mundane are often the things you wish you could have back and I feel it is important for every player to take a moment from time to time and appreciate having the opportunity to play this great game and all of the wonderful experiences that come along with it.”
Tell us about the mission of the Jason Taylor Foundation?
“Our official mission at the Jason Taylor Foundation is that we ‘support and create programs that facilitate the personal growth and empowerment of South Florida’s children in need by focusing on improved health care, education and quality of life.’ Basically, we are dedicated to young people. That manifests itself in a myriad of ways, but we do have a very specific focus on education and empowerment. I am a firm believer in providing resources to people so they are prepared for that one big opportunity in life that we all hope to have.”
What do you like to do in your spare time? Are any of your children involved in football?
“I’m not sure what spare time even means anymore! I coach high school football at St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale and that often feels like a full time job, although it certainly is a labor of love. I do like to get out on the water whenever I get an opportunity to do so, and when the weather is accommodating, I certainly don’t mind swinging a golf club. As for my children, all three are high school athletes. My two boys both play football, and my daughter, Zoe, plays volleyball. It’s been an incredible joy to watch them all work hard, compete, and balance athletics with school.”
You are going to be a dad again soon. We are super happy for you! Congratulation to you and Monica. Please leave a final message to all the parents reading this article.
“Thank you. Monica and I are very excited. One thing I have said publicly and say all of the time, is that being a father is the greatest gift in the world. There is nothing more important to me and nothing that makes me happier in life. I think it is our responsibility to love and care for our children; to protect them but to also prepare them for the world in the best way that we can. That looks different in each home as everyone is dealing with different circumstances, but universally, I believe those are the goals of parenting. And for parents who have children participating in sports, I encourage you to support your kids in any way that you can, but once you turn them over to a coach, enjoy being Mom and Dad, cheer loudly, and let the coaches do their jobs.”
Photographer Front cover: Karla Garcia-Costa. Kgohhsnap