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Taylor Has Fame, but Needs Help : Linebacker Is Seeking Treatment for Substance Abuse

April 07, 1986|BILL BRUBAKER | Washington Post

Parcells declined to answer any questions concerning Ravo. Ravo's lawyer, Miles Feinstein of Clifton, N.J., said, "Vinnie has nothing to do with drugs. If Taylor had any problems, Vinnie was not responsible."

New Jersey law-enforcement officials interviewed by The Washington Post also had concerns about professional athletes' hanging out at The Bench.

One reason is that Frank Scaraggi, who has been identified by law-enforcement authorities as a major sports-betting figure and an associate of Genovese crime family soldier John DiGilio, has been a customer at the bar.

Feinstein said his client knows Scaraggi. "Vinnie doesn't throw out people and say, 'Hey, are you a member of organized crime?' " Feinstein said. There is no indication that Taylor has associated with Scaraggi.

Ravo said he is not associated with any illegal activities. "I think Parcells is a fat (hyphenated epithet)," he said. "I wish you could put that in the paper. I don't really give a damn, because I'll spit in his face."

As for Taylor: "L.T. is a friend of mine, so what's the big deal? My bar isn't the only bar that L.T. has gone into. He must've been into 500 bars."

While Ravo was awaiting sentencing on the receiving-stolen-property charge, Taylor was being questioned about his assets by lawyers representing his former girl friend. In a deposition taken on July 21, 1983, Taylor said of the financial interest he has in his agent's company, "(It's) like a savings account. It's my money. They keep it there. I get some interest on it . . . around 15%, maybe."

Of his horse ranch, he said, "I guess it is (a) horse farm, a breeding farm. Not a breeding farm, but just a place where they graze and stuff." Asked for the name of the ranch, he said, "I don't pay attention to that."

As he sat in a lawyer's office in Chapel Hill that afternoon, Taylor seemed uncertain about his future as a professional athlete. "I might not play at all (this season)," he said. "I might be tired of football."

That summer Taylor refused to report to training camp until his contract was renegotiated. He relented only after the Giants promised to discuss his contract at season's end.

But Taylor received some interest from the New Jersey Generals and he hired a Washington, D.C., lawyer, Richard A. Bennett Jr., to negotiate a contract that would pay him $3.25 million over four years, starting in 1988, when the option year of his Giants contract expired. The deal also provided him with an on-the-spot $1 million interest-free loan and a lifetime $100,000 annuity that would begin in 1998.

Taylor celebrated his new fortune by flying to the Bahamas with Ravo. "We just went out there to fool around," said Ravo, who was still waiting to be sentenced.

On returning, Taylor learned that the Giants had countered with a 6-year $6.55-million package that also included a $1 million interest-free loan. This deal, negotiated by Trope, was contingent upon Taylor's getting a release from the Generals.

Trump obliged, but only after Taylor returned the $1 million loan with $10,000 interest and agreed to make a $750,000 settlement over several years.

With Ravo's sentencing date approaching, Taylor wrote a letter on Giants' stationery to Passaic County Superior Court Judge William J. Marchese. The letter was certainly favorable toward Ravo.

The judge sentenced Ravo to three years in prison. (He would serve 10 months at the Leesburg, N.J., state penitentiary.)

By the 1984 season, Taylor's fast-track life style had been a topic of conversation among NFL-club officials. "We were hearing that he had a terrible drinking problem and a cocaine problem," one club executive said. "Some of his teammates said they were scared to death to be with him in a car."

Taylor was again selected all-pro, even though he made only 3 1/2 sacks in the last 12 games.

On Feb 20, 1985, an Orange County, N.C., District Court judge ordered Taylor to pay Davis $900 a month in child support, $11,000 for back payments, and to purchase a house for his child, Whitney Taylor Davis, that would cost between $70,000 and $90,000.

Taylor also was ordered to pay $43,000 of Davis' legal costs, the child's medical bills and private-school tuition, and to provide a $250,000 life insurance policy. (Taylor has appealed the order to pay the legal costs.)

Taylor refused to talk to the media when he reported to last season's training camp. When he finally granted an interview, he said he had spent the off-season traveling and playing golf. "Golf is just like drugs," he said. "Once you start it, you can't stop it."

As the season progressed, writers covering the team noticed a marked change in Taylor's personality. One day, he was spotted dozing on a couch in the Giants clubhouse. Another day, he was seen weaving his Mercedes around the steel drums that section off the players' parking lot.

His on-field performances were equally erratic. In one three-game stretch he made a total of only eight tackles. But in a game against the Redskins, his two-sack, 11-tackle effort helped the Giants to a 17-3 victory.

When Lawrence Taylor admitted last month that he was undergoing treatments for "substance abuse," some of his closest friends were surprised. Others weren't.

"Lawrence is mysterious in that something like this could happen," said Dylan Pritchett of Williamsburg. "There must be something he's trying to get in his life that he's not getting."

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