Former Giant Bill Ard thought Lawrence Taylor had turned his life around, that a spate of arrests during and after a Hall of Fame career finally had ended.

"It's almost like the less you hear about him, the better you feel because he's not in the news," Ard said Thursday from his office at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Westfield, N.J.

But Ard wasn't taken completely by surprise at the news that Taylor was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with third-degree rape of a 16-year-old girl at a hotel in Suffern, N.Y.

"I think everyone has given him a lot of passes, and everyone wants him to be as clean as possible," said Ard, who played left guard for the Super Bowl champion 1986 Giants.

"As you get older, you walk a fine line, and for the most part in his own little world, he was doing that. You figure he's got it all figured out. But hey, what can I say? It always seems to be one thing or another."

Most of Taylor's previous arrests were drug-related. Police Thursday said they found no evidence of drugs but did find a bottle of alcohol in Taylor's room.

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Ard thinks this situation is different because of the rape allegations with a minor.

"When you're talking about drugs, you're talking about a guy who is harming himself," Ard said. "That's why this is different. I think we need to wait to see what happens, but just the nature of it is different. It's a bummer for that 16-year-old girl. It's a bummer for everybody."

Former Giants linebacker Harry Carson said he was with his good friend Taylor last week in the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. "[Former Bills defensive end] Bruce Smith had a golf tournament that Lawrence and I played in," Carson said.

"There's nothing that I want to say in regards to this situation, so I'll just say nothing.''

When asked if he wanted to offer his support for Taylor, Carson said, "I just don't want to comment on anything until I find out more. My best tack is if I don't say anything."

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Carson was not alone in distancing himself from Taylor's latest legal problem. Former Giants coach Bill Parcells, the Dolphins' director of football operations, said through a spokesman that he did not want to address the matter Thursday. Former Giants linebacker Carl Banks also declined to comment.

Said one player who asked not to be named: "Not a topic I am touching until more facts are out."

The Giants issued no public statements and were not expected to do so in the immediate future, according to Pat Hanlon, their director of media relations. Giants president and co-owner John Mara declined to comment.