Lawrence Taylor was a once-in-a-generation talent. A freak athlete with lightning speed and boulder-moving strength, LT changed the way National Football League teams defensively schemed against pass-rushing linebackers.
The Hall of Famer spent his entire NFL career with the New York Giants, during which he racked up 132.5 sacks (142 if you count the 9.5 sacks his rookie season in 1981 before sacks became an official statistic in 1982). He’s the last defensive player to win NFL Most Valuable Player honors and is considered the best defensive player of all time ahead of names like Reggie White, Ronnie Lott, Dick Butkus, Ed Reed and Deion Sanders.
Taylor was also known for his mean streak and reckless behavior, both on and off the field. He famously ended Joe Theismann’s career by breaking his leg on a sack and was involved in multiple car wrecks.
Still, Taylor became the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL at one point for his sack services. Drug and alcohol abuse, plus financial woes, since retiring have seriously hurt the professional football player’s bank account, meaning he’s not set up as well as fellow members in Canton like Emmitt Smith, Deion Sanders or John Elway.
So, just how much is Lawrence Taylor worth today?
College and NFL Playing Contracts
Lawrence Julius Taylor was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, and played football at Lafayette High School, where he wasn’t heavily recruited by colleges.
Taylor accepted a scholarship to play defensive lineman and linebacker at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The All-American set a host of defensive records, won ACC Player of the Year in 1980, and was widely considered the top prospect in the 1981 NFL Draft class.
After the New Orleans Saints passed on LT with the first overall pick, the New York Giants snatched up the fearsome pass-rusher with the second pick in 1981. His impact around the league was immediate.
Quarterbacks were scared of him. Running backs weren’t big enough to block him. Offensive lineman were too slow to stop him. No one had seen anything like him. He was the greatest defensive player around.
“Lawrence Taylor, defensively, has had as big an impact as any player I’ve ever seen. He changed the way defense is played, the way pass-rushing is played, the way linebackers play and the way offenses block linebackers.” — John Madden, via ESPN.
Taylor amassed 9.5 sacks and won 1981 Defensive Rookie of the Year and NFL Defensive Player of the Year, making him the only rookie ever to be named the league’s best defensive player. His career year came in 1986, when he amassed 20.5 sacks and won the NFL MVP award.
Over his 13-year career with the Giants, Taylor totaled more than 1,000 tackles, 142 sacks, nine interceptions, 33 forced fumbles and helped lead the G-Men to wins in Super Bowl XXI (1986) and XXV (1990).
His career earnings over his prosperous career totaled nearly $50 million, according to AOL.com.
After the 1983 season, he accepted a $1 million loan from Donald Trump, the United States Football League’s New Jersey Generals owner. The catch was that he had to play in the USFL in 1988. Taylor later backed out of it, gave Trump the money back and earned a new six-year, $6.2 million contract from the Giants.
In 1990, the Giants made him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. They inked him to a three-year, $5 million deal to keep him on the field. He retired after the 1993 season and was inducted the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999 as one of the greatest players to ever step on the gridiron.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Taylor failed two drug tests in his career — once in 1987 for cocaine and again in 1988. The two-time Super Bowl champion put down the habit for five years, fearing a third positive test that would’ve banned him from the league.
He went down a dark place following his retirement. Rehab didn’t do much for him, and twice in the span of three years, he was arrested for attempting to buy cocaine from undercover police officers. In his two autobiographies, Taylor elaborated on his drug addiction. He said in his second book he “saw blow as the only bright spot in my future.”
It wasn’t just drugs that grabbed a hold of Taylor. He admitted in a 2003 interview with 60 minutes that at one point he was spending thousands of dollars a day on prostitutes and cocaine. One time, he showed up to a team meeting still wearing handcuffs he and some women were using the night before.
Financial and Legal Trouble
Taylor hasn’t exactly been smart with his finances over his lifetime.
He started a company called All-Pro Products in his final year in the NFL, and the stock skyrocketed to where Taylor’s stock was worth more than $10 million. The company stopped production suddenly and Taylor lost hundreds of thousands of dollars when the company’s stock became worthless.
In 1997, he pled guilty to filing a false tax return in 1990. A few years later, he was sentenced to house arrest, probation and 500 community service hours for tax evasion.
Taylor was also arrested in 2010 for having sex with a 16-year-old girl at a New York motel. He was charged with third-degree statutory rape and was sentenced to six years probation as well as registering as a low-risk sex offender.
TV, Professional Wrestling and Acting Career
Taylor has appeared on TV in a variety of ways since his retirement. He was a football analyst for TNT Sunday Night Football, appeared as a wrestler in the World Wrestling Federation’s Wrestlemania XI and appeared on FX’s fighting program called Toughman.
The former football player has also appeared in films like The Waterboy, Any Given Sunday, Mercy Streets (2000), In Hell (2003) and the HBO series The Sopranos. His voice was used in video games Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Blitz: The League.
Taylor now lives in South Florida and lives a quiet life with his third wife. Taylor has four children — including Brandon Taylor, who played football for Purdue — and has had multiple wives — Deborah Belinda, Ebony Washington, Maritza Cruz and Lynette Taylor. He co-founded a network marketing company in West Palm Beach and was a spokesman, along with former players Eric Dickerson and Seth Joyner, for the health drink it produced.
In 2009, he appeared as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. He told Sports Illustrated in 2006 that playing golf helps keep him away from drugs and alcohol.
Lawrence Taylor Net Worth
Following a successful professional career in which he reportedly earned a total of $50 million, Taylor’s net worth has plummeted. Drug and alcohol abuse, plus some financial and legal mishaps, have left the 10-time Pro Bowl player with little left in his bank account.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Taylor is worth an estimated $200,000. That isn’t much considering he was one of the best players of his time and the rookie minimum salary in the NFL is currently $480,000. The average NFL player in 2017, for example, raked in $2.7 million for a full season. Divide that figure by 16 and you get a whopping $168,750 per game.
The highest-paid outside linebacker in 2019 was Von Miller, who was making north of $25 million per year. Considering Taylor was one of the best OLBs and American football players to ever play, he probably wishes he could cash on his talent the way players do now.
This post was originally published on October 31, 2019 before updating.