There's only one thing that drives Jason Taylor nowadays.
The linebacker has had a brilliant career, moving into a tie for eighth place with Lawrence Taylor and Leslie O'Neal on the NFL's all-time sack leader list after posting No. 132.5 in Sunday's thrashing of the Bills. But sacks and stats are no longer what motivates the 36-year-old who's in his 14th season out of Akron.
It's all about that huge, microwave-sized Super Bowl ring.
“Yeah, that’s the only reason I play this game anymore," Taylor said this afternoon. "Really, from Day One, there were a lot of great byproducts from playing: you’re playing at a high level, you get paid, you’re having fun and all that stuff, and the fame and all that. But the reason we play this game is to win the championship, so you can’t do that if you don’t make the playoffs and this is the first step."
Taylor hasn't won a playoff game in nine seasons. He knows his time is ticking and the sand in the hourglass isn't far from running out, though he said he's been taking that kind of approach for a while now just because of the nature of the sport.
“You never know in this game," he said. "You’re one bad injury away from having to hang it up. The older you get in your career you realize the end is getting closer and closer. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The light’s coming quicker and quicker to the point where it’s not blinding yet but you need sunglasses on. You realize the end is near.”
Before he reaches that end, at least he got to play for Rex Ryan before he calls it a career. Taylor has spoken before about his admiration for Ryan, and said today that all the players share the same kind of confidence that oozes out of their brash coach.
"And if you don’t, shame on you," he said. "And if you talk to the Colts and they don’t believe they’re going to win, then shame on them. People talk about the Jets bravado or whatever, and overconfident, but what would you want us to sit here and say? ‘We hope we win’? or ‘If we happen to win?’ No. You have to go in believing you can do it. If you don’t believe, you might as well stay home.”
Just to emphasize the urgency of making it happen in the postseason, Ryan had Taylor drove the point home by having him talk to the team, making sure all the players are aware they need to seize what's in front of them.
"It’s hard to get here and the opportunity that you have, let’s grab hold of it and take advantage of it because nothing’s promised," Ryan told me. "We expect to be in the playoffs. Don’t get me wrong, we expect it. But don’t ever think it’s a certainty and the other thing is let’s make hay right now because this may be the best football team that you have, the best chance that you have in ever winning a Super Bowl.
"So whatever you do, put out all the chips in and let’s go for it."