November 27, 2007

RIP Sean Taylor

This may be a rambling post. Or it may be short. I'm just kind of starting here because I've just gotten to the computer this morning and am totally in shock. Sean Taylor is dead. My favorite Washington Redskin is gone. Those who knew me and knew what I liked about the 'Skins knew that although I have a propensity for naming my fantasy football teams after Clinton Portis characters, I have always admired the tenacity that Sean Taylor took with him out onto that football field. I was infuriated by it at times such as last year when he played with uncontrolled tenacity, going for the monster hit and sometimes coming up totally empty. But this year, it was incredible to watch the guy come into his own, play with intensity and tenacity, patrol the secondary like a truly all-Pro player, make opposing receivers fear coming over the middle, and make opposing offensive coordinators make game plan changes because of him. He was in his fourth season, was well-respected by everyone on the team, was apparently really changing the way that he lived his life for the better because of the birth of his daughter, and was a key cog on that team. Sometimes guys really are only friendly with a few players on the team and it shines through in the way other teammates describe that player. If you watched any of the coverage last night, you could see that Sean was truly beloved by his teammates. Chris Cooley was near tears, Clinton Portis was in total shock, Pierson Preleau spoke with great emotion, and Keenan McCardell, who only joined the 'Skins midway through the season and knew Sean Taylor for the majority of Sean's career as an opponent, spoke of Sean in the most glowing terms. Gregg Williams, Sean's defensive coach, broke down when speaking of him.

The unexpectedness of this all is what hits us all so hard. We went to sleep last night with the great news that Sean was responsive and that according to various sources, he was out of a coma. Even if he didn't ever play football again, he might live. Apparently, unfortunately, word of Sean's being out of a coma was erroneous. He never left his coma. He was responsive with basic human reflexes. That was it.

I think about great losses in sports. Where does this fall? Certainly in the DC Area, this may or may not be second to Len Bias in terms of tragedy. However, the 'Skins are more widely beloved than the Terps are across the DC Metro area. In such a transient town, the one thing that those of us who were born and raised here, and those people who were relocated here bond over, drink over, and obsess over, are the Washington Redskins. I guess when I think about the rest of sports in general, maybe this will fall along the lines of a Darryl Kile, who passed suddenly in the middle of the St. Louis Cardinals season a few years ago and was truly beloved by that town. But Sean Taylor was different. He was so young and was just beginning to show the true talent that those of us 'Skins fans who have followed him ever since he was drafted came to hope we'd see. We thanked whatever God we worshipped to every day that the 'Skins didn't draft Kellen Winslow, and we were so happy to finally have a first round draft pick that panned out after so many years of busts.

And I still have so many unanswered questions and so many conclusions that I shouldn't be drawing but already am. First off, to answer a question J-Red posed on here, Sean's lawyer stated that he had told the team he was going to Miami to get a second opinion on his knee to find out whether he would be able to play again this year. Word didn't make it to Joe Gibbs. Not surprising given the state of affairs at Redskins Park the past few years. But I also agree that this was far from random. Sean's house had been broken into previously. On the night in question, his alarm system was turned off. His phone line had been cut. Somebody had familiarity with Sean's property and had planned for this. It seems that one of two things happened:

1) Robbery gone bad. I think this is what all 'Skins fans hope for. The people who robbed Sean's place a few days ago came back for more. They didn't anticipate Sean or his family being there (but why cut the phone line?) When Sean confronted them, they fired wildly at Sean, missing once, and in a strike of horrible coincidence, hitting Sean in the groin which ordinarily would not be a kill shot unless you just happen to hit the exact point where the femoral artery lies.

2) Targeted attack. I think this is what all 'Skins fans truly feel may have happened deep in the pits of our stomachs. Sean was turning his act around over the past 18 months. By all accounts, the birth of his child was the wake-up call to turn his life around. But, Sean certainly had a checkered past prior to that. He made enemies. In Miami, enemies are easy to make (those of you who know me know that I have a very large segment of my family in South Florida and positively despise the City of Miami and believe it's the biggest shithole on the East Coast and positively overrated only because of South Beach). These enemies targeted Sean. They staked out his house. They were the ones who broke in last week. They saw Sean's car in the driveway. They cut Sean's phone lines. They broke into the house knowing they'd confront Sean. These guys weren't pros, weren't Mafia hit guys, and just fired their gun twice hoping to hit Sean. One shot missed, the other was a very unfortunate and coincidental kill shot.

Listen... regardless of whatever of these two it proves to be, if it proves to be either of these two, I feel like I've been punched in the gut this morning. Who knows if the 'Skins play the Bills on Sunday. Who cares? All I hope is that NFL fans around the country appreciate the loss and the hurt that 'Skins fans feel this morning and lay off the humor or the jokes that may be in the back of their minds.

Sorry for rambling. This went way longer than I intended. RIP #21. You will be missed.

2 Responses:

J-Red said...

I think this falls much closer to Len Bias than Darryl Kile. There's a big difference between a home invasion shooting in the middle of the night and an unfortunate heart condition.

Late last night I saw the Eastern Motors commercial with Sean Taylor. Earth to Comcast...

michael said...

Good post. And amen to Miami being overrated...its not even one of the best places in its own state.

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