As Jason Taylor announced his NFL retirement Sunday after 15 seasons, including 13 with the Miami Dolphins, the first coach he thanked was George Novak of Woodland Hills.
Starting at the 12:40 mark of the video, Taylor tells a story about how Novak discovered him. Taylor would play safety for the Wolverines as a junior and senior, earned a scholarship to the University of Akron and was drafted by the Dolphins in the third round (73rd overall) in 1997.
A six-time Pro Bowl pick, the 6-foot-6, 244-pound Taylor finished his career with 139.5 sacks, sixth-most in NFL history, and holds the record for most fumble returns for touchdowns (six), despite having one overturned Sunday against the New York Jets. He was NFL defensive player of the year in 2006.
Taylor appears destined for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I’m here today because of George Novak,” Taylor said. “He started this journey off, when I knew nothing about football. They’d throw a flag, and I didn’t know what the signal was. I’d watch my teammates, see where they walked, because I didn’t know what the heck to do. I didn’t know Cover-2 from Cover-3 from Cover-1. I was a safety, and he told me to stay deep. That’s kind of how I learned how to play. So, I owe George Novak a lot, my old high school football coach. He was the best, and still is the best.”
– Kevin Gorman