Miami Dolphins LB Jason Taylor officially announced Wedneday that he will retire after the team completes its season against the New York Jets on Sunday.
"Sunday's my last game," he said. "I might even change my cell phone so they can't reach me."
The Jets game will be Taylor's last, concluding a 15-year career with no major injuries that could one day put him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. All but two of those seasons were spent with the Dolphins. He played for the Washington Redskins in 2008 and the New York Jets in 2010.
“I want to thank Jason for all he has done for the Dolphins and the South Florida community. His contributions on the field as one of the greatest players in team history will be remembered by Dolphin fans for years to come, and his charitable works off the field that has benefited so many
people will leave a timeless legacy of his community service,” the Miami Dolphins Chairman Stephen Ross said in a statement.
Over his career, Taylor has amassed 139 and 1/2 sacks, the sixth-highest total since the NFL began counting the statistic in 1982. He made 131 of his sacks in a Dolphins uniform, the most in team history.
"He's just a very competitive, great guy. He was one of the main reasons this year that we didn't really fall part," said teammate Vernon Carey.
He won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2006 and has been named to 6 Pro Bowls (most recently in 2007). Taylor also won the league's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2007, and his 6 career fumble returns for touchdowns are the most in NFL history.
Taylor joined the Dolphins in 1997, having been selected in the third round of that year's draft (73rd overall) by then-coach Jimmy Johnson. Then a defensive end, Taylor went on to anchor the Dolphins defense for over a decade with middle linebacker and friend Zach Thomas, another late-round draft pick by the Johnson regime.
Taylor and Thomas remain close friends, and Taylor is married Thomas' sister Katina. Until RB Reggie Bush joined the Dolphins this season, he was for a long time the only member of the team with star power. Taylor competed on the reality TV show "Dancing With the Stars" during the 2008
off-season, finishing the season as runner-up to champion and retired figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.
When asked if Taylor was the best dancer in the locker-room, teammate Will Allen said, "I don't know about that. I like to think that I am the best dancer. But for that formal dancing stuff, he can have that."
Taylor's retirement will leave a void in the hearts of Dolfans, though more for emotional reasons than football reasons. Playing in reserve, and mostly in pass rush situations, Taylor has collected 7 sacks this season.
"His character and his leadership will be missed around here. Hopefully guys like myself and other guys can replace that," teammate Brandon Marshall said.
Taylor will certainly garner Hall of Fame consideration in retirement. The football statistics website Pro Football Reference lists seven Hall of Famers among Taylor's ten best comparables. Of the remaining three, two (Michael Strahan and Warren Sapp) are likely to be inducted into the Hall in coming years. Taylor's other comparables include legends Jack Youngblood, Deacon Jones, and John Randle.
Taylor, 37, will also have many opportunities in sports broadcasting now that he has called it quits in football.