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Lawrence Taylor’s Fame Ends With Child Hooker: Scott Soshnick

It’s time for the folks in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, to stage a Lawrence Taylor un-enshrinement ceremony.

Better yet, make it one of those midweek specials on ESPN, where they’re always searching for the kind of programming that will drive ratings.

Let’s make sure it’s something memorable, so that every professional athlete can see there are, indeed, consequences beyond league-imposed fines and suspensions. Make it so that it’s clear there are some punishments that outlast playing days, something like Taylor’s bronze bust being tossed into the Dumpster out back. Now there’s a visual athletes won’t soon forget.

If the latest allegation is true, if Lawrence Taylor had sex with a 16-year-old prostitute, then even the most feared defensive player in the history of professional football doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. Don’t care what he did on the field. Don’t care about the unanimous Most Valuable Player Award, the defensive player of the year accolades or even the Super Bowl championships. Don’t even bother to recite his statistics. I’ll counter with his rap sheet.

Don’t care about the sacks, the snarl or, as L.T. would say, the snot that he knocked out of countless opponents. Don’t care about the dominance, either.

Just dump him. This isn’t a man worth honoring.

The problem is the Hall of Fame doesn’t dump anyone. Not even O.J. Simpson, who’s lucky to be doing jail time for anything but murder.

“Our bylaws do not provide for anyone to be removed,” says Joe Horrigan, spokesman for the Hall of Fame. “It’s solely based on what was done on the playing field.”

No Sentimentality

The Hall’s board could, however, change the bylaws.

“There’s no sentiment to do that,” Horrigan said.

How can that be?

The Hall of Fame should take note of National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has made it abundantly clear that character counts, too. Touchdowns and interceptions don’t exist in a vacuum. Just ask Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who received a six-game suspension without so much as a guilty plea or verdict. He was banned for vile behavior that a district attorney couldn’t prove was criminal.

A good number of Steelers fans agreed with the banishment. They even urged the team to dump the two-time Super Bowl champion after he was accused of sexual assault for a second time. Who wants that kind of fellow as the face of a franchise?

Taylor Troubles

Taylor’s troubles date to 1986, when he completed one week of a six-week drug rehabilitation program. It’s always something with this guy. But he’s L.T., the man who reinvented the outside linebacker position, so there’s always another chance, another fan offering forgiveness.

It has to end.

Football’s Giants shouldn’t stand idly by, either.

The ultimate honor a team can bestow upon a player is to retire his number. Taylor, 51, doesn’t deserve the honor.

Put No. 56 back in the rotation, if anyone would wear it.

You fans should stop wearing it, too. Toss your L.T. gear in a drawer. Let the dog chew on it. Wash the car with it. Or maybe just toss it.

Maybe some retailer like Modell’s Sporting Goods Inc., which sells -- get this -- a Lawrence Taylor Women’s Throwback jersey, ought to let disgusted customers trade in their jerseys for a different player free of charge.

Fed-Up Fans

Maybe Nike Inc. or Reebok International Ltd., which has an NFL maternity line, ought to capitalize on the growing market of fans fed up with player misbehavior.

Golfer Brian Davis said it best in the wake of all the publicity surrounding his decision to self-report a rules violation that might have cost him his first PGA Tour victory.

With all that’s been going on around the world, he said, people are looking for something positive, for somebody to do the right thing. There’s money to be made.

So why hasn’t Nike or Reebok created a good-guy line of jerseys? Make Grant Hill the captain. Believe it or not, there are plenty of laudable athletes in the professional ranks. Only they’re overshadowed by the miscreant minority who carry guns, fight dogs and treat women as property.

Or maybe it’s best if fans stop buying player jerseys, since it’s impossible to know what fame and fortune will do to athletes. If you must buy something, make it a hat or sweatshirt that isn’t player-specific. It shows allegiance to the team, not any individual, who might one day find himself with a 16-year- old runaway who was brought by a pimp to a hotel.

So go ahead and worship L.T. if you must.

Me? I’ll wait for the first un-enshrinement ceremony. One day soon one of the Halls of Fame is going to have the sentiment and guts to do it.

(Scott Soshnick is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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To contact the writer of this column: Scott Soshnick in New York at ssoshnick@bloomberg.net

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