Last year I wrote a piece on Sean Taylor, his life, his career and interviewed several people for their opinions and where they were when they heard he had lost his life. This year, I would like to put his life into the personal perspective of a die-hard Redskins fan. That fan just happens to be me.
As a kid I had a Terry Allen jersey, then a Stephen Davis, then a Champ Bailey, then Darrell Green in the 70th anniversary throwback style. I only wanted to invest in players I thought I could wear for a long time. I asked my father, a year after Sean Taylor was drafted, to get me his jersey. I just new. Luckily I didn’t get it until after he changed his number from 36 to 21. I just remembered sitting in the cafeteria talking to my friends about whether the Skins should go Kellen Winslow or Sean Taylor with the fifth overall pick. I had hoped for Taylor.
Sean was known for many things, but for me it was about the fear he imposed in his opponents. Watching the Redskins as I grew up was just disappointment after disappointment (sounds familiar?). When the Redskins drafted Sean something had changed. The defense seemed not only better, but they played with anger. There was a killer instinct that number 21 imposed that no offensive player he came across could match. He put Terrell Owens in his place several times, he single handedly won a playoff game in Tampa and he put the fear of God in Todd Pinkston to the point where he couldn’t even glance at the middle of the field. Sean did everything.
My first time seeing Sean Taylor was at my first Redskins game ever in 2004. My mother came across a pair of tickets through a friend and we ended up being about 15 rows from the field in the lower corner directly next to the tunnel. I had a 35mm disposable camera and all I wanted to do was snap a picture of my favorite player. About five minutes before the game began, number 36 walked up to Santana Moss, patted him on the back, and got ready to run out of that tunnel. You may remember this game for other reasons though; this was the infamous Vikings vs. Redskins game where Randy Moss walked off the field with Minnesota still in contention. Taylor had already gone head-to-head with the future hall-of-famer and denied him. This really just set off an infatuation with him as a player that never subsided, even in death.
As I watched Sean I began to learn about the majority of his college career at Miami, his high school career at Gulliver School and earlier at Miami Killian High School. I also learned about his personal life, his wife and his daughter. Honestly just having to type this really hurts. Sean was on the come up, he had his daughter and his mind straight. When I had heard he was shot, my intramural football team (at the University of Maryland) had just won their first playoff game. All of us got back to the dorms to hear about what had happened. I didn’t leave the television for hours. All I kept thinking was “how long will he be out?” never thinking, “this could be it.” It was a surreal feeling when I found out he had passed. We had a game that day and nobody went. We just couldn’t wrap our minds around the fact that we had just lost possibly one of the greatest Redskins ever.
After his death, there wasn’t much to say. His number was painted on the field, his parking space remained empty and his locker eventually encased in plastic and preserved forever. It was all so quick. Some people feel as though a professional athlete shouldn’t be able to invoke the emotions that Sean Taylor did in his fans and friends, but he really did. I “knew” Sean Taylor for six years, one great season at Miami when I payed attention to the Canes and his five years in DC. I almost felt like I had lost a brother.
Even years later some people say that he didn’t have enough of a track record in the NFL to warrant a spot in the Ring of Fame or even a posthumous Pro Bowl selection, those people couldn’t have seen him play before. He was the ultimate player- linebacker size with corner speed and beautiful way of delivering game-changing blows.
Sean was a son, a father, a football player and a man on a better path. He was my favorite player and four years later, it still hurts like it was yesterday.
I apologize now to those that may find this to be a little bit of a “soap box” moment, but if you had the opportunity to voice your opinions about your favorite player, wouldn’t you?
If you click here it’ll link you to my favorite Sean Taylor tribute video and also, here is a link to my article from last year in which I interview several Redskins fans and Matt Terl, formerly of the Redskins Blog. Take a look.
Rest in Peace Sean!