Jason Taylor, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last summer, was in Charlotte on Friday to talk to the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
Taylor, 43, retired in 2011 after playing most of his career with the Miami Dolphins. He finished with 139.5 sacks, now seventh on the NFL’s all-time list. He answered five questions from the Observer’s David Scott:
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Q. How’s life as a Hall of Famer?
A. “It’s busy, in a good way. It brings a little more attention to you. Having that attached to your name just brings more weight. It gives you an opportunity to affect people in a positive way: saying hello, taking pictures or doing events.”
Q. The Carolina Panthers have been up and down this season. Should Panthers fans be concerned?
A. “I know they’re having their struggles. But that’s like many teams in the NFL. Look at the parity. That’s pretty much what (the NFL) wants, except with some who are still doing well for people in “survival” pools. But even New England’s been losing some, so that tells you all you need to know.
“It’s late October, early November and it can get a little boring sometimes for fans. But as players, it’s intense the whole time. So there’s kind of a lull now. Once Thanksgiving hits, though, everything becomes so important.”
Q. What’s your take on Cam Newton and his behavior with the media that has attracted so much attention recently?
A. Everybody’s different in how they handle things when there’s adversity and bad days. We’re all human; Cam is human. Every celebrity has good and bad days, too. Sometimes we have to deal with them in public and you can get beat up for it publically.
“There are probably a few things he’d like to take back, and he apologized for the incident (with Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue) a couple of weeks ago. You learn from them.
“He’s one guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve and he plays that way. It reflects on how he plays. He’s really up when things go well, but sometimes he has to guard against getting too low when things go the other way. He sometimes has too much negative body energy. People see that and feed off that.”
Q. What’s your take on the national anthem controversy?
A. “I stay away from it. Look, that started last year. The president wanted to bring it up now, for whatever reason. Let’s stop focusing on the form of the protest and focus on the issues. It’s so old. The real issue has gotten really cloudy and has become hidden behind the light of bringing focus to the issues. I think it’s ludicrous.”
Q. The Panthers’ Julius Peppers recently passed you on the all-time sacks list. At age 37, he’s got 150 career sacks and already has 6.5 this season. How’s he do it?
A. “I can’t believe he’s still out there doing it. He passed me pretty soon after I retired. He’s an amazing guy. He just keeps on doing it.”