Tuesday is a somber day for those invested in the Washington Redskins organization. On Nov. 27, 2007, former safety Sean Taylor died from a gunshot wound during a home invasion in Miami, FL. He was only 24 years old.
The fifth overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Taylor quickly became a fan favorite in Washington for his hard-hitting style and passion. He was forceful on the field, but quiet off it. In four seasons with the Redskins, Taylor earned one Pro Bowl nomination and his flashes of defensive brilliance made The Washington Post's Mike Wise wonder what could have been:
Would he have been Ronnie Lott-good, better than the greatest hard-hitting safety in NFL history? Or just Kenny Easley- and Donnie Shell-good, which is still great? Would he have put up better numbers than Ed Reed and gone down as the best University of Miami safety to play in the NFL?
"This is my eighth season covering the Washington Redskins and during that time, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Sean Taylor was easily the most fascinating player I've ever had the privilege to cover," Brian Murphy, proprietor of Homer McFanboy, said Tuesday. "He only knew one way to play the game -- with reckless abandon. He was never comfortable dealing with the media and preferred to let his play speak for itself, which worked out well because he played with such a level of physicality that he absolutely intimidated opponents and made them think twice before coming across the middle of the field. Honestly, he was a throwback player who probably was better suited playing back in the days of leather helmets."
TheHogs.net's Jake Russell spoke to Taylor's father, Pete, who detailed how he plans to honor to his son Tuesday:
"As a father," Taylor says, "you still deal with it in a private setting and you respect and honor what God has done and know he makes no mistakes."
Taylor will honor his son today in Miami: "One of the things I'll do is I'll go out and revisit his grave site and be there for a little bit," he said. "[I will] clean it up and make sure everything looks good and tight-knit."
Sean's tombstone aptly features artwork of the 2004 first-round draft pick breaking up a pass and flipping a Dallas Cowboy player in midair. The design is indicative of how Sean played: fearless and unrelenting. One of the most feared players during his three and a half years in the National Football League, Taylor was known for delivering bone-crushing hits and highlight reel turnovers.
Even though his life and career was cut short, Taylor will surely be remembered as one of the most intimidating defensive players in NFL history, but it was his connection with the fans that will carry his memory forward for generations to come.
"Even though Taylor didn't care for the media, he absolutely loved the fans," Murphy said. "I can't tell you how many times I saw Taylor walk past a media member (who was simply trying to ask him a question after practice) like he wasn't even there, only to stop and sign countless autographs and pose for photos with kids.
"Many of his own teammates admit they weren't all that close with him, but Taylor let his guard down when someone with a small child asked for his autograph. That's when people like me got to see the real Sean Taylor."
UPDATE: News4's Chris Gordon reports that the four teens who were charged with murder and armed burglary in Taylor's shooting have yet to face trial. Tuesday, on Sports Radio 1067 The Fan, Taylor's father said he is not frustrated by the delays.
"The department that headed the investigation, Miami-Dade, did an extraordinary job in capturing these young men," Taylor's father said on the radio. "I'm happy and being patient, not rushing to judgment, making sure that they find the right person responsible for Sean's death."
Today, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III tweeted:
"Never got the chance to meet Sean Taylor, but his legacy is embedded in our franchise. Because of that ...we play with him every game."
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