Three Years Later, We Remember Sean Taylor

It was three years ago, this Saturday. Redskins safety Sean Taylor was at his home in Miami with girlfriend Jackie Garcia and their 18 month old daughter recovering from a sprained MCL he sustained against the Eagles. The couple heard a loud noise coming from inside the house. As Taylor grabbed the knife he kept in near his bed a man broke through their bedroom door and fired two shots. One shot missed both Taylor and his girlfriend, the second changed the future of the Taylor family and the Redskins franchise forever.

Sean Michael Maurice Taylor, age 24, died on November 27th, 2007 from severe blood loss due to a gun shot wound in his femoral artery. The main suspect (and now defendant) in this case has been charged with 1st degree murder and faces life in jail, as the death penalty has been taken off the table (he was a minor at the time of the shooting). The trial date has been postponed many times over the last three years but now there is a tentative date of December 10th. The Taylor family and Redskins nation should receive some form of closure in this matter soon. On this third anniversary of his passing, we remember the man that was Sean Taylor.

Sean played with more heart than any player I had ever seen in person or on film. Fearlessly, he launched his body sideline to sideline on every play. Sean had only one gear and that gear was fifth. He won jump balls with Randy Moss, put Terrell Owens in the dirt and forced Todd Pinkston to rethink his routes over the middle. He simply did not know how to take a play off, as evidenced by his absolute annihilation of punter Brian Mooreman in his first Pro Bowl.

I always loved Taylor leveling Brian Moorman on the fake punt in the Pro Bowl.  I’m the only person I know who always watches and enjoys the entire Pro Bowl, and that hit – the fact that one of my favorite players seemed to be actually *gasp!* enjoying the all-star game – that just made me like him all the more. - Redskins Blog’s Matt Terl.

While Taylor was known for his big hits, he was becoming a solid cover safety as well. He totaled 299 tackles (238 solo), two sacks, eight forced fumbles and twelve interceptions through his 55 game career with Washington. Sports Illustrated named him the NFL’s hardest hitter in 2007, and he was the first player in NFL history to be voted to the Pro Bowl posthumously. The man on the field could seemingly do no wrong. The most tragic thing about his untimely death was the fact that he was finally turning his personal life around, mainly due to the birth of his then 18 month old daughter Jackie.

The death of Sean Taylor, while sad, actually inspired the city of Washington and its team in a way never before witnessed. The Redskins and Owner Daniel Snyder immediately set up the Sean Taylor memorial trust fund and subsequently dedicated a minimum of $500,000. The trust fund was set up to support Sean’s only child Jackie and ensure her financial security as well as her future education. Proceeds from his jersey sales and other apparel were placed into the fund as well. The Sean Taylor Foundation was also created in his memory. This foundation uses donations and volunteers to reach out to the south Florida community through mentoring and physical activities. On the field, the Redskins played inspired football and made an improbable run to the playoffs that year after a 5-7 start.

Sean Taylor’s passing was to Redskins fans, a day that will live in infamy. I decided to talk to some of the Redskins faithful and get their thoughts about him and his passing.

I was actually in Miami at school, so it was sad for me both as a student at the University of Miami and a Redskins fan…I remember thinking about his family and how terrified and awful I felt, especially for his daughter. When I heard the sound byte of him talking about growing up and his daughter I think I shed a tear. - Miles Aghajanian, contributor to Riggo’s Rag and former University of Miami student.

My immediate reaction was disbelief.  Sadness, of course, but primarily that frustrating feeling that this couldn’t possibly be happening. Like everyone else, I had gone to bed the night before with the last news sounding promising – the supposed squeeze of a nurse’s hand – so that fed into the natural shock of a larger-than-life figure being murdered in what then sounded like a bizarre botched home invasion. – Matt Terl, head writer for The Official Washington Redskins Blog.

I was at work and my cousin had instant messaged me. At first I was upset, thinking he got himself into trouble with ghosts from his past. As soon as I learned of the situation I was greatly saddened and locked in to getting updates of his status. I was briefly comforted when I learned he was able to squeeze his nurse’s hand on command. The next morning, my sister knocked on my door and told me I had to see something on TV. It was the news report that he had passed. That was the saddest day for me in a non-family related way. This was my “John Lennon has been shot” moment. - Ryan John Estorninos, editor and head writer for Riggo’s Rag.

I also asked fans about their favorite Sean Taylor memories, on or off the field.

Two weeks before it happened my brother had the opportunity to see the Skins and Taylor was the only one who took the time, not only to give him an autograph, but to talk to him about football. My brother is being recruited at age twelve by some of the biggest football high schools in the country and I think meeting Taylor meant a lot to him. - Morgan Young, Prince George’s County native and student at West Virginia University.

Sean Taylor leaps into the endzone against Philadelphia

His fumble return for a touchdown to seal the deal versus Philly.  He was a freakishly talented athlete, and this play showed it. He picked up the ball like a short stop, and bolted for the end zone like a mad man. Joe Buck’s call is forever burned in my head – “…and the scramble for the loose ball.  And it’s into the arms of Taylor.  And Sean Taylor will glide to the end zone and jump for the touchdown!” - Ryan John Estorninos, editor and head writer for Riggo’s Rag.

Sean Taylor puts Terrell Owens in his place

There are so many, but what always sticks out the most for me is the way he played against Terrell Owens. It seemed like he made it personal because every hit he put on T.O. was a big one. I remember one game in particular when T.O. was with Dallas, it got to where it felt like he was afraid to even catch the ball and missed several passes that should have been caught. - Scott Steward, Riggo’s Rag contributor.

Sean Taylor returns a blocked field goal attempt against Dallas

I was at the game when Sean Taylor picked up Troy Vincent’s blocked Dallas’ game winning field goal attempt and returned it into field goal range, had his face mask held, and allowed us to kick the game winner.  It was one of the craziest moments I have witnessed in sports and seeing Sean Taylor win the game for us like that was awesome. – Miles Aghajanian, Riggo’s Rag contributor.

Sean Taylor defends Randy Moss in the endzone

My first memory of Sean is from the first Redskins game I ever attended. It was January of 2005, the Redskins were 5-10 and out of the hunt, the Vikings were 8-7 and in control of their own playoff destiny. Sean came up with a key goal line stop and even won a jump ball with Randy Moss. This was also the game in which Randy Moss walked off the field with time left on the clock. The Redskins won that game 21-18 and it started my infatuation with Taylor the player.

I remember being in high school and talking about the Redskins and their 5th overall pick at lunch. The debate was Kellen Winslow Jr. or Sean Taylor? I said Sean was too good to pass on, and thankfully Joe Gibbs agreed with me. Sean Taylor became my favorite player almost instantly. When I signed up to play varsity football, I chose the 36 jersey. The first Redskins jersey I ever purchased with my own money was Taylor’s 21 in white. This Thanksgiving I’d like to take the time to give thanks for Sean, the athlete and the person. I’d also like to give thanks to those that helped to raise Sean and afforded him the opportunity to make an impact in so many people’s lives.

I encourage all of you reading this post to watch the video I’ve included below. It’s a very moving tribute to Sean Taylor and his career from high school to the NFL.

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Tags: 21 36 Eagles Florida Home Hurricanes Kellen Winslow Jr MCL Tear Miami November Randy Moss Redskins Redskins Blog Riggos Rag Sean Taylor Shooting Terrell Owens Trial Washington Washington Redskins

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