Dolphins Hall of Famer Jason Taylor looks up to Heat’s Udonis Haslem: ‘There’s an aura around him’

HOLLYWOOD – Jason Taylor played 13 seasons for the Miami Dolphins. He has been selected to six Pro Bowls and this summer he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame.

But Taylor cedes his status in the city when it comes to Udonis Haslem, who is preparing to start his 15th season with the Miami Heat.

“He is Mr. Miami. Mr. 305,” Taylor said. “I’m a visitor in his city. I moved down here 21 years ago but this is his city. I’m just paying rent.”

Jason Taylor and Udonis Haslem serving their customers Saturday at Subway in Hollywood. (Photo Tom D’Angelo)

Although Taylor takes a backseat to no one when it comes to athletic prowess in South Florida, but when it comes to dipping into the fast food franchise business, he defers to Haslem. Taylor and Haslem are partners in a Subway restaurant in Hollywood, which held its grand opening Saturday. Although this is Taylor’s first Subway, Haslem’s portfolio includes five Subways, two Auntie Anne’s, a Starbucks and an Einstein Bros. Bagels with another Starbucks and Einstein’s coming soon.

“To partner with someone like that, the champion that he is not only the basketball part but the person that he is,” Taylor said. “You see the heart and the leadership, things that really transcend sports and into the business world.

“He’s a lot further along in the business world in this business than I am. It’s great to partner and try to learn from him.”

For Haslem, a Miami native and lifelong Dolphins fan, going into business with Taylor, 43, is a “dream come true.”

“For me the key to this business thing is to surround myself with good people,” Haslem said. “This is another person that I trust and that I watched do a lot of work over the years.”

Haslem, 37, signed a one-year, veteran minimum contract for $2.3 million this summer. Only Dan Marino will have spent more time wearing the uniform of one of South Florida’s four major sports teams, having quarterbacked the Dolphins for 17 seasons. Haslem will catch former Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg, who played for 15 years.

Though appreciative and proud of having overcome going undrafted to becoming a three-time world champion and longtime Heat captain, Haslem said he doesn’t dwell on his longevity, saying one day there will be time to reflect.

“There’s still more to the story I want to continue to write,” he said.

He just leaves that to others, like Taylor.

“There’s an aura around him that I still look up to a little bit,” Taylor said. “He’s got that ring. He’s been the constant. So many pieces around him have changed through the years from championship teams, teams that struggle, back to championship teams, he’s been that one thing that’s remained.

“I was that veteran guy where you become more and more of a mentor. Always being a leader. It’s amazing how much more valuable you become to an organization when you become more altruistic, willing to help guys that need the help. Help the organization sometimes in the unsexy places, in unsexy ways; you got to step outside of being liked sometimes to be true leader. He is all those things.”

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