Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons has often been compared to Lawrence Taylor — arguably one of the greatest NFL defenders of all time. This started last season because both linebackers had impressive rookie campaigns.
In 2021, Parsons had 13 sacks, 83 tackles, 37 quarterback hits, and three forced fumbles in 16 games as a rookie. Forty years earlier, Taylor collected 133 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 8 passes defended, two forced fumbles, and an interception in his first year in the NFL.
For the Penn State product to be compared to Taylor is the ultimate praise. The Hall of Famer has nine All-Pros, 10 Pro Bowls, 132.5 sacks (which doesn’t include the 9.5 from his rookie season, because sacks weren’t an official stat), 1,088 tackles, 10 fumble recoveries, and nine interceptions to his name.
To others, comparing the two feels incredibly premature and unfair. Parsons has one season and three games to his name next to the former MVP’s 13 seasons. Taylor himself isn’t necessarily thrilled about the comparisons. This is what he told the New York Post ahead of the Monday Night Football game:
"“I don’t know who the best defensive player is, but all I know is I’m always on the last page, of the last paragraph, of the last sentence when they say ‘the greatest of all time. Until somebody tells me different, I own it.I’m quite sure I’m gonna see what he’s got on Monday night ’cause I will be there. I haven’t analyzed it. But I will on Monday.”"
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year was there to see his “protege” (of sorts) in person on Monday night. He was certainly impressed, but to be honest, also seemed a little salty — likely because Parsons was a big reason Taylor’s former team lost their first game of the season.
As he was walking off the field, the Hall of Famer said:
"“He’s playing pretty well. Let’s see if he can keep it up for dag-on 13 years.”"
Lawrence Taylor was impressed by Cowboys LB Micah Parsons but wants to see if he can do it for 12 more years
What a quote from Taylor. You can tell there’s some bitterness in there, but he certainly has a point. Parsons has been phenomenal in what he’s shown the world so far. The Cowboys LB is a clear frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year through Week 3. However, Taylor does have 12 more years of dominance on him.
The correlation between the two, at this point, likely isn’t because anyone truly thinks Parsons can be considered better than Taylor just weeks into his second year. It’s because the 23-year-old plays with the same strength, intensity, versatility, and speed that the Hall of Famer did. Let’s also remember that Parsons did that against the Giants after being out of practice all week with an illness.
Parsons has clearly made a name for himself. In Week 2, he became the first player in NFL history to get 17 sacks in his first 18 games. While his trophy case is already stocked at just 23 years old, Taylor has an NFL MVP and three DPOY’s on the young defender.
These days, it’s pretty rare for players in any position to have careers as long and successful as Taylor had. But, if Parsons can keep up this pace and level of performance, he may just be a history maker by the end of his career. Until then, we are enjoying watching the beginning of his story.