Spotlight back on Taylor's Dolphin dilemma

STATELINE, Nev. -- For the longest time, the will-he-or-won't-he story of the offseason was about whether Jason Taylor would trade his playbook for a movie script.

Then along came Brett Favre's second thoughts about retirement to seize control of the headlines.

"I'm glad Brett's made some noise now, so maybe they'll leave me alone a little bit," Taylor said with a smile before venturing onto the course for his final practice round for this week's American Century Celebrity Golf Championship.

Not so fast. Perhaps Taylor has been bumped from top billing in the offseason. Perhaps questions about his NFL future have been erased by the fact he remains a member of the Miami Dolphins and that he has said publicly he will play for one more season.

But there still could very well be some drama concerning the star defensive end that has yet to play itself out. For starters, is Taylor planning to report to the Dolphins' training camp, which opens July 25?

"We'll see," he said, coyly. "We'll see."

Taylor also was vague about when he could be expected to take the field in 2008.

"At the end of the day, when it's time to play ball -- when the time is right for me to go play ball -- I'll be there, I'll be playing ball," he said. "I'm working out every day and getting ready, knowing what we have coming up at some point this year. But right now I'm just enjoying (the time off) while I have it."

Taylor spent the bulk of the offseason in Los Angeles, taking part in ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" competition and preparing for his post-football career as an actor. "Hollywood understands that I'm going back to play football this year and any (movie) projects have to wait to, hopefully, February," he said.

Taylor said he has been working out as hard as ever on his own, but did not participate in any offseason workouts with the Dolphins. Although the team has a new coach, Tony Sparano, and a new scheme installed by new defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, Taylor insists he didn't miss a thing by being absent for organized team activities and minicamp.

"Even if you are there in the offseason every day, dress rehearsals are so fake," he said. "People look great when they're in underwear and T-shirts running around and making fake plays. But when you get in camp or when the bullets get a little more live, so to speak, you start to see what guys are really made of and what the makeup of your team will be."

It had long been speculated that the Dolphins' makeup no longer would include Taylor. Talk throughout the NFL had him demanding a trade to a team with better prospects of making the playoffs. As hard as Taylor has tried to dismiss such reports, they wouldn't go away -- at least not until Bill Parcells, the Dolphins' new executive vice president of football operations, said Taylor was off the market and that the team had every intention of having him in uniform this season.

Still, Taylor's future with the team presumably was a major topic of conversation when he met with Parcells early last month. Taylor wouldn't reveal details about the meeting (Parcells hasn't, either), although he stressed that he does not have a problem getting along with the team's brass.

"We talked for a couple of hours," Taylor said. "We had a good talk. He explained his position, I explained mine, and I think we both understood each other. There's no animosity with Bill or with (new Dolphins general manager) Jeff Ireland or anybody over there. That was one of the things I talked about with the media back in June when I first addressed it, and then I talked to Bill about it. It's not me against Bill Parcells or anybody else. The NFL and the Miami Dolphins are way bigger than me, way bigger than Bill Parcells and every other individual there.

"I'm sure the culture will be better, I'm sure the attitude will be better down in Miami. I think Parcells and those guys are the right guys for the job. I have a lot of respect for Tony Sparano. I think he'll be a good coach, but it's yet to be seen how it'll all shape up."

Taylor is sensitive about his relationship with Dolphins fans and people in Miami. He doesn't want the events of the offseason to change the strong bond he has built with them during his 11 seasons with the team.

"My heart is in Miami," he said. "I love the place, I love the city, I love what the team has done for me, and I think we've got a great relationship. And if things change in the future, they change. It's part of business. But there's no animosity.

"I hope the fans don't think I'm being a jerk about stuff. It's not that way. I think the way it was portrayed in the media sometimes was more negative than it should have been. Guys are trying to make a story out of stuff that isn't really there. I think the unfortunate thing from being removed from it in L.A., and not addressing it and not talking about it all the time like everybody else, was people come up with their own assumptions. I've tried to handle it in a classy way. At the end of the day, people know what I bring to the table -- that when it's time to play, they can always hang their hat on the effort they get from me."

The questions are, exactly when will they get it and for how long?

"I plan to play this season, and that's what I told the Dolphins," Taylor said. "I tried to be up front with them about it after all that crap came out about the whole trade thing. I'm like everybody else in America, though. We're in a free country and I could always change my mind.

"But I guess (people are) beating Brett Favre up for thinking about changing his mind. Brett needs to do what Brett wants to do, and whatever works best for Brett and his family and the team. If the team wants him and he wants to do it, then do it. It's a great game, and do it as long as you can and as long as you want to. And move on."

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