For allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl? OK, maybe that's unchartered territory, even for L.T.
What are we supposed to make of this? Well, I can offer my opinion on what actually happened but I subscribe to Floyd Mayweather's theory on opinions so I'll leave it to the pundits to give us theirs. Jason Whitlock of The Kansas City Star and formerly of ESPN provided the most compelling evidence to date of Taylor's guilt, tweeting, "Seriously, not tryn 2 be funny, but the fact he was at a Holiday Inn is damning evidence. Only reason 2 stay @ Holiday Inn is do shady shat." Also, Taylor's history, specifically that he has a rap sheet as long as Al Capone's, doesn't lend itself to a verdict of innocent in the court of public opinion.
And for Taylor's legacy, if not his actual criminal sentence, the court of public opinion is all that matters.
For years, L.T. has found himself in trouble because of all sorts of issues, but this one's a whole different animal. This time, he didn't buy $50 worth of crack from an off-duty police officer or file a false income tax-return; he allegedly raped a 16-year-old girl. The allegation itself is creepy, regardless of its validity. In an ideal world, we'd wait until all the facts came out before passing judgment, but we don't live in an ideal world. I'm sure many Americans have already deemed L.T. guilty of rape and will not be swayed by any potential evidence to the contrary. I'd like to think that we have learned from the Duke lacrosse case and now won't rush to pass judgment until the facts of the case are brought to our attention, but I know that's not the case. When ESPN.com and all of the other sports news outlets ran stories this morning stating that Lawrence Taylor was arrested and faced charges for third degree rape, the damage was done.
So what exactly does that mean to Taylor's legacy, or what's left of it anyway? He'll probably go the way of Barry Bonds, persona non grata who just happened to be arguably the best player at his position who has ever lived. L.T. has parlayed drug charges and violence allegations into a Hall of Fame bid and a Dancing With The Stars appearance, but those days are over. Rape charges are not an easy thing to get off your back, even if you're found not guilty. And judging by the public's refusal to forgive Bonds and the rest of the steroid era for their alleged destruction of the sanctity of baseball, it's unconscionable to think people will give L.T. a pass for a far more serious offense, involving a minor no less.
In the coming days and weeks, we'll probably come to know a bit more about what actually happened, but the nitty-gritty of the case matters only to the jury in Taylor's courtroom; the rest of us have already decided.