By now, I'm sure you've heard that a suburban New York grand jury has indicted Giants Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor on charges of third-degree rape and patronizing a prostitute. He was also indicted on charges of endangering the welfare of a child, and sexual abuse and criminal sexual act in the third degree.
The indictment transferred the case to Rockland (N.Y.) County and Taylor's scheduled to appear July 13. To be clear, the burden of proof for an indictment is not anywhere close to what it takes to secure a conviction. In fact, Taylor's defense team chose not to present any evidence to the grand jury.
But if Taylor's convicted on any of the charges, there will be some folks who believe he should be booted out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Yahoo! Sports columnist Jason Cole had that opinion about Taylor in early May. Here's how I responded to that argument on the NFC East blog:
I think that's a pretty slippery slope if the Hall of Fame committee took this unprecedented step. The voters have always been instructed to only consider what a player has accomplished on the field.
If that's the agreed upon standard, it doesn't make sense to boot a player from the Hall based on a crime that takes place after his induction. It seems like the judicial system should handle Taylor's punishment. The Hall of Fame committee isn't in the business of judging a player's entire life. It takes a look at a player's NFL career and then makes a decision.
I see no reason to revoke that decision based on actions that take place following a player's retirement.
If Taylor's guilty, he'll have to serve his time. But it would set a bad precedent to revoke his Hall pass. At that point, the committee would need to instruct its Board of Selectors to consider off-the-field incidents. In 1999, Taylor was the litmus for Hall candidates who had issues off the field. It was decided that only his reputation as the greatest linebacker of all time would be considered during the voting process.
No matter what happens to him in the legal system, I wouldn't let it affect his spot in the Hall of Fame.