More Than Just A Pretty Face

New Redskins defensive end Jason Taylor addresses the media upon his arrival in Ashburn on Monday evening.Photos: John McDonnell/The Washington Post, AP, GettyEditor: Jonathan Forsythe/
By Mike Wise
Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Goodbye, Derek Jeter. Peace out, Tom Brady. I don't want to be you anymore. I have a new man-crush. Someone taller, faster, more handsome and unbelievably polished replaced you, someone who makes the foxtrot more in vogue than the sprinkler.

Jason Taylor stepped toward the microphone in Ashburn yesterday in a suit of immaculate navy-pinstriped wool and a tie of burgundy sheen. He tried to pass himself off as an ornery sack man, a constant harasser of the quarterback, a six-time Pro Bowler brought in to shore up the Washington Redskins' decimated defensive line.

He tried so hard.

But the more the square-shouldered gentleman infused humor with humility -- the more he kept flashing the telegenic smile and saying all the right things about putting football before "Hancock II," about the "privilege and honor" of playing in the NFL, how he planned to make owner Daniel Snyder and executive vice president Vinny Cerrato "look like geniuses" for gambling on a 33-year-old career-long Dolphin who had spent time in Bill Parcells's doghouse -- the more it became clear:

The Redskins didn't trade for one of the NFL's elite defensive ends Sunday night; they traded for an ambassador, someone who could start the healing for everything that has ailed this franchise.

Phillip Daniels's season-ending knee injury on Sunday that led to the trade is just the beginning.

Taylor will be viewed as the quick fix for an organization that still hasn't properly addressed its pass-rushing deficiencies, one that needs to create the havoc Gregg Williams used to make it create.

He's also face-of-the-franchise material, less than six months after Joe Gibbs's sudden re-retirement directly led to the hiring of Jim Zorn, who, with no experience as an offensive coordinator or head coach, was given the job after a bizarre search.

Zorn seems like a genuine, homespun soul, trying his best not to be a deer in the headlights. Boy, can he use Taylor's suave and smart delivery, which will immediately siphon the cameras and the notebooks away from his neophyte coach and tired-of-talking teammates.

Part of his job, unfairly perhaps, will also be to fill the void of Sean Taylor. Less than a year after the young safety was murdered, Jason Taylor may be the only player on the roster with the same game-breaking defensive ability.

You can't help but feel a little concerned for him. For Taylor thinks he's coming to Washington to make a difference on a team that's in the playoff conversation again. When, in truth, the moment his introductory news conference ended he had the look and aura of a man who could fix awful things he had nothing do with.

"You do think about that," he said after he finished charming a cadre of television and print reporters. "I'm not here to be a savior. I'm one of the guys. I'm trying to fit in and be member of this team like everybody else.

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