Lawrence Taylor Suspension Leaves Giants Somber

Posted: August 30, 1988

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Where was the sense of betrayal or sorrow for a fallen teammate in the New York Giants' locker room?

Where was the dismay over the absence of a key player for at least four critical games, and maybe longer?

If the Giants felt those emotions yesterday, they kept them well-concealed when All-Pro linebacker Lawrence Taylor was placed on the non-football illness list by the NFL and banished from the team for at least 30 days for failing a test for cocaine Aug. 15.

Taylor, who has acknowledged that he underwent treatment for a cocaine problem in 1986, was suspended for a second offense under league guidelines. He is eligible to return Sept. 28, four days before the Giants play their fifth game, in Washington. If he fails another drug test, he will be banned

from the league for at least one year.

Taylor was not allowed to enter Giants Stadium yesterday. But the team made it obvious he will be welcomed back when he gets medical clearance from the league.

"We were all surprised," said Tim Mara, one of the team's owners. "I wish him nothing but the best, and of course he can return."

Taylor will miss the season opener next Monday night against Washington, plus games against San Francisco, Dallas and the Los Angeles Rams. He also must enter a program of inpatient or outpatient treatment at the discretion of Dr. Forest Tennant, the league's drug adviser. Taylor's return is dependent upon approval of Tennant and the Giants' team physician.

Taylor had been saying repeatedly this summer that there would be "no drugs" in his life. He glibly spoke of how he was a changed person, a new LT, a leader for the defense and role model on the field for young players. But two days after the test was administered, Taylor kicked the door of a truck that had cut off his car in traffic. He then verbally berated a reporter who questioned him and tore up the accident report.

Coach Bill Parcells said he was not angry, but "a little bit surprised. You don't expect these kind of things. I had every reason to believe things were in pretty good shape."

Asked if he felt betrayed, Parcells gave no comment. Asked if Taylor would be hard to take back, Parcells again gave no comment.

Most of the players issued "no comments" as well.

Ironically, Washington's All-Pro defensive end Dexter Manley, one of the other eight players suspended aftern NFL drug tests this summer, will play against the Giants Monday night after serving a 30-day suspension and returning to practice yesterday.

"You just have to get over it," Giants offensive lineman Bill Ard said of Taylor's loss. "Just say he hurt his back. If you dwell on it, you'll screw yourself up."

Taylor outlined his 1986 battle with cocaine in his book "LT: Living on the Edge," which has just been released in paperback. In the 1986 season, he bounced back with his finest season. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl and he became only the second defensive player in league history to be named the NFL's Most Valuable Player as he set a club record with 20 1/2 sacks.

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