Kayvon Thibodeaux has been with the New York Giants for less than a week, but he’s already flexing his appreciation for some of the franchise history.
The star defensive end out of Oregon answered a wide range of questions for the New York Post after being selected by the Giants with the fifth-overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. One of the questions was “What have you heard about Lawrence Taylor?”
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“He’s the greatest of all time,” Thibodeaux told the Post. “I’ve just heard the stories of him being relentless. … I heard he’s a guy who they came up with roughing the passer and everything based off him. He was the guy who created roughing the passer.”
While Taylor definitely played in a rougher era, that last part isn’t really true at all. According to the NFL’s official operations website, a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer has been around since at least 1940. Taylor’s reign of terror in the NFL started 40 years later.
Regardless, Thibodeaux has a clear appreciation for Taylor’s game. Taylor played 13 seasons with the Giants from 1981-1993, won two Super Bowls with the team and finished his career with 132.5 career sacks. He was the last defensive player to win league MVP (1986) and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot with the Class of 1999.
The only player in Giants history with more (official) sacks than Taylor is Michael Strahan, and as it turns out, Thibodeaux is pretty fond of him too. Thibodeaux, who says that Strahan will serve as his personal mentor in New York, was also asked about that relationship.
“He’s one of the greatest pass-rushers of all time,” Thibodeaux told the New York Post, “and he really looks at this like an art.”
Thibodeaux is the latest in a long line of premier pass rushers to come through New York. It started with Taylor and Strahan, but the legacy was continued by the likes of Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul.
It has been several years since the Giants have fielded an edge defender of that caliber, but perhaps Thibodeaux can change that as a rookie in 2022.
Thibodeaux is Also a Big Fan of Ed Reed
One non-Giant Thibodeaux mentioned as an inspiration in his interview with the New York Post was former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed.
“I was a big fan of Baltimore when I was young, and I’ve seen the things [Reed] did on the field,” Thibodeaux said, via the Post. “I saw this one video when he talked about his process of thinking like using a quarterback’s tendencies and they were showing an interception that he got when he basically pump-faked the quarterback when the quarterback pump-faked him, then he was able to get the interception, it was crazy.”
That quarterback was Peyton Manning. This is the video Thibodeaux was talking about, and it’s from Reed’s selection for the NFL 100 All-Time Team.
Thibodeaux comes off as a student of the game with an appreciation for the legends who came before him.
The Most Awkward Question Thibodeaux Answered
It’s too bad there’s no video of this interview, because I would have loved to see Thibodeaux’s face when New York Post columnist Steve Serby asked him this question: “Sacks or sex? What’s better?”
“Sacks,” Thibodeaux answered. “You can only do it at a certain point in time. Once I put this helmet down, I’ll never be able to get a sack again.”