November 30, 2007

4 arrested in Taylor murder

So I'm about to go to bed, but need to post quick on this. 4 arrests in Sean Taylor's homicide, police tips led directly to the suspects, the gunman is in custody. Important notes:

1) This WAS a burglary gone bad. It's really sad, but in a way, I think it's a relief to us Redskin fans to know that our memories of Sean aren't going to be tainted by him in any way bearing any of the blame for his own death.

2) One of the guys in custody's brother is dating Sean Taylor's half-sister. You follow? Burglar's brother dating Taylor's sister. The same sister who also happened to be the primary caretaker of Sean's residence during the football season. That would be how these guys knew that Taylor lived there and targeted the residence.

It is still unclear if these were the same guys who broke in a few days ago, but my suspicion as of right now is that they were. They broke in a few days before to scope things out, weren't prepared to carry all out that they wanted to, so they came back with knowledge of what was there and knowledge of the layout of the premises. Only this time, unexpectedly, Sean was there. Sean hears them in the place, and gets out of his bed with the machete. They come straight for his bedroom because evidently that's where he kept his safe and a number of other valuables. They enter, he lunges at them with machete, they fire twice in a panic, once missing and once with the kill shot.

Florida, with it's ridiculously high execution rate, will be getting the syringes and gurney ready for whoever pulled the trigger (unless he was the 17 year-old who can be tried as an adult but not executed as per the Supreme Court).

Oh, and Mike Wilbon needs to retract and/or apologize for the piece of trash he wrote in The Washington Post, or he really might be run out of town. People are ANGRY now that it's come out that Taylor had no involvement and bears zero blame for what befell him.

Video of Tony LaRussa DUI Arrest

Wow... this is going to be the source of some great heckling material next season. This is basic training for any DUI defense lawyer. A lot of people have trouble with the balance parts of the SFSTs, but LaRussa apparently thinks the English language ends at V.

Excellent Nationals Trade

So I will likely pontificate more on this later, but I'm just seeing that the Nationals landed 22-year-old outfield superstar prospect Lastings Milledge for Brian Schneider and Ryan Church. This was the same Milledge who the Mets asked for Chad Cordero for straight up during the summer. The same Milledge who almost was worth a straight-up trade for Barry Zito back when Zito was at the very top of his value. Milledge is a 22-year-old speedster centerfielder who doesn't hit for power, but has a pretty good average, is way above average defensively, and is absolutely a stolen base threat everytime he reaches base. The Nats outfield as it stands now will be Willy Mo Pena in left, Milledge in center, and Austin Kearns in right. Not half bad.

I hate to see Schneider go. He's a guy who stuck things out with the Expos while they split their schedule in Puerto Rico. He deserved to see a packed house and to experience the new stadium. He was a great clubhouse guy and decent at throwing runners out. There were a lot of #23 jerseys in the stands at RFK, and it wasn't because of his on-field talent. But Jesus Flores is $5 million less in payroll, has much less wear on his body, and isn't that steep of a downgrade. Church, who could barely deal with the DC media, will be absolutely filleted by the New York media.

So we trade veteran leadership and a bit of a headcase who can't swing the bat for a guy with a little bit of a known attitude, but a remarkable talent and potential multi-year all star. A guy who also happens to love Manny Acta and credits Acta with much of his development.

Nicely done Jimmy B. You pulled one over on a division opponent and you filled a much-needed hole in the Nats system.

November 29, 2007


Now that the new Gil Zeroes are out (and they look pretty good), Adidas has a great website set up at where you can watch Arenas being himself.

Here's a sample.

Interview with Handicapping's Superstar

I recently had a chance to sit down with Jeremy's Magic 8 Ball, which has posted an astonishing record picking NFL games against the spread this year.

ECB: Let's get right down to it. This has been an extremely unpredictable season, but you keep winning. How do you do it?

ECB: Surely you're not trying to insinuate that you have NFL referees on the take. What about the Lions? They were a great meal ticket ATS early in the season, but they've fallen off considerably. What do you think?


ECB: That may be true. He did make fun of the naked drive-thru coach with his Halloween costume. What's the most important factor to consider when picking against the spread?



BREAKING NEWS - The Sun Reports Kidnapping

This just in from the Baltimore Sun. Brian Billick received this letter earlier today:

Championship Week CFB Picks

See? I really was saving up my good picks for last week. The way this season has gone, 7-4 is cause for celebration. There will be a bowl picks edition of this column some time after finals. Good luck to those of you still in school.

BOSTON COLLEGE (+4.5) over VaTech - VT is mad they lost last time, but Ryan wasn't sharp in the wind and rain either. I don't think VT's offense will be any better than last time.

Tennessee (+7.5) over LSU - Tennessee can put up some points on LSU's recently exposed defense. All you have to do is look back to the Tenn-UGA game to know the Vols can win.

MISSOURI (+3.5) over Oklahoma - I think the Tigers being underdogs will get them really fired up. They are #1. I'd be insulted.

Last Week: 7-4
Season: 42-51-5

Week 13 NFL Against the Spread Picks

There are only a few weeks left to catch Jeremy. Friendly fantasy reminder: there's a big game tonight that you won't be able to see.

Brien (30-28-2, .517)

Since last week went so well (4-1), I'll be taking teams with good ATS records again this week.

Green Bay (+7) over DALLAS - The Packers are 9-1-1 ATS, and I think spotting Brett Favre a touchdown in a huge night game is a bad idea.

Cleveland (pk) over ARIZONA - Remember last week, when I said that was the last week that Vegas would underestimate the Browns? I was wrong. They did it again this week.

Tampa Bay (+3) over NEW ORLEANS - The Bucs are another team that has been consistently underestimated this year. Quite the opposite is true of the Saints: every time they win a game, the sports world is ready to believe that they've turned their season around. It's not going to happen. Tampa Bay is just a better team this year.

MINNESOTA (-3) over Detroit - The Lions bandwagon is a distant memory at this point.

New England (-20) over BALTIMORE - I hate to pick in a game with such a large number, and I hate to go against a home team on Monday night trying so save a little bit of pride. But if there's one thing we've learned this season, it's that the Ravens never cover. If there's two things we've learned this season, it's that the Patriots almost always DO cover. You're also not likely to see New England lay two eggs in a row on nationally televised games.

Jeremy and Magic 8 Ball (30-24-6, .550; 35-19-6, .633)

Jeremy's Picks:
Helllllloooo... J-Red.... how's the weather way back there?

DALLAS (-7) over Green Bay - I hate that the Cowboys are this good. Really, I do.

Cleveland (PK) over ARIZONA - This is definitely a weird spread... a Cards team that lost to the Niners in overtime against one of the most potent offenses in the NFL? I guess the University of Phoenix Stadium is worth a lot to Vegas these days.

Jets (+1) over MIAMI - With a spread this low, essentially a pick'em game. The 'Fins are playing essentially running back less at a stadium that will be filled with transplanted New Yorkers. The Pittsburgh mud made the 'Fins D look much better than it is.

MINNESOTA (-3) over Detroit - After how quickly they dispatched Eli and the Giants last week, I like Minnesota in this one. They're playing very well.

San Diego (-5) over KANSAS CITY - L.T. is due for a huge game. The Chiefs just might give it to him. Weather might be a factor in this game though (snow possible) and if it is, I wish I could take back this pick.

Magic 8 Ball Picks:
Another week of games, another week with a winning record. You all are boring me.

DALLAS (-7) over Green Bay - "My sources say yes." [Cowboys beat spread]

Cleveland (pk) over ARIZONA - "No." [Cardinals won't beat spread]

Miami (-1) over New York Jets - "Signs point to yes." [Dolphins beat spread]

Detroit (+3) over MINNESOTA - "Don't count on it." [Vikings won't beat spread]

KANSAS CITY (+5) over San Diego - "Signs point to yes." [Chiefs beat spread]

J-Red (29-28-3 for .508)

After the debacle in Pittsburgh Monday night, I'm going to share a link with everyone. From the pulldown, you can get the game-day weather forecast for every team.

Buffalo (+6) over WASHINGTON - I can't see how the Skins can use Sean Taylor's death has a motivational tool. Even though Buffalo is a bad team with a decent record, I think the Skins will start slow after a draining week.

MIAMI (-1) over New York Jets - This is my heart. I really want the Dolphins to win a game before the Ravens play them. This seems like a good opportunity against a bad team in division. Plus, some no-name running back is going to have a chance to shine.

Denver (-3.5) over OAKLAND - My new bandwagon is off to a bad start, but they should bounce back.

Jacksonville (+7) over INDY - Jax plays Indy tough, and now they have a quarterback who can actually attempt some kind of comeback if the need arises.

TENNESSEE (-4) over Houston - I don't know why. Maybe Vince is still mad at the Texans.

Russell (25-33-2, .433)

DALLAS (-7) over Green Bay - The Boys overwhelm an injured, inexperienced Pack, though I would love to see a Pack victory.

San Francisco (+2.5) over CAROLINA - The Panthers haven't won a game at home all year, and SF has played relatively well the last few weeks.

Tampa Bay (+3) over NEW ORLEANS - The Bucs just keep winning...

MINNESOTA (-3) over Detroit - Now I'm off the bandwagon too... Plus AD is back.

WASHINGTON (-6) over Buffalo - The Skins have been good at home, and this will be an emotional game, dedicated to 21.

Recap and Standings

Brien - CLE, GB, MIN, NE, TB
Jeremy - CLE, DAL, MIN, NYJ, SD
Russell - DAL, MIN, SF, TB, WAS
Magic 8 - CLE, DAL, DET, KC, MIA

Magic 8 (35-19-6 for .633)
Jeremy (30-24-6 for .550)
Brien (30-28-2 for .517 -- 2 GB)
J-Red (29-28-3 for .508 -- 2.5 GB)
Russell (25-33-2 for .433 -- 7 GB)

We Own the Big 10... how about a new challenge?

Alright... it's official. This is not a "challenge" anymore. Nothing is a challenge when the same conference has won all of the almost ten years the "challenge" has been in existence. It used to at least be close. But now, the ACC is top-to-bottom ten times the conference the Big 10 is. I'm ready to pull my hair out watching Big 10 basketball. And I just can't get excited anymore when I see Illinois or Wisconsin on the schedule anymore.

ESPN has already created the SEC/Big East Challenge. Well how about we let the ACC/Big 10 Challenge finish out ten years, and then rip apart both challenges and create the ACC/Big East Challenge? It could look a little something like this:

Terps-Georgetown (the obvious)

Duke-UConn (two coaches who are both generally loathed)

UNC-Louisville (an all-out power game)

VaTech-WVU (bad blood in this old school Big East rivalry)

Syracuse-BC (see above)

Miami-Notre Dame (reincarnate Catholics vs. Convicts)

FSU-South Florida (battle of Panhandle versus rest of state)

Wake-Depaul (battle of the Demons... Blue Demons vs. Demon Deacons. plus gotta pair the religious schools)

NC State-Villanova (I love the 80s)

UVA-Rutgers (UVA students would faint at the thought of playing a New Jersey state school

Georgia Tech-Providence (need someplace to put GaTech)

Clemson-Pittsburgh (see above; this could also be a very good game)

Tell me that's not a kick-ass slate of games. A whole hell of a lot better than Northwestern/UVA. Come on powers that be... get this going.

Maryland Beats Illinois

It's tough to overstate how important the win over Illinois was to a young Maryland team. After losing to UCLA and Missouri in Kansas City last week, the Terps really needed a confidence boost against a major conference team. The team comes out of last nights game believing that they can play with good competition. Some quick-hit thoughts from the game:

  • Illinois is the type of team that has historically given Maryland problems (see Wisconsin). They rebound well and play physical, thug-style Big 11 basketball. Last night Maryland out-physicalled the Illini and held the rebounding battle even. That says a lot about how good the Terps can be this year or next.
  • When I saw that Ted Valentine and Karl Hess were two of the officials for the game, I actually shouted "Oh no!" at the TV. They apparently swallowed their whistles during warm ups, because there were only 21 free throws attempted by both teams. The notable exception to the "let them play" officiating style was the second half play when Valentine called a foul on Boom even though there was almost no contact and even though Valentine was about 50 feet away from the play. I won't complain any more about the officiating, otherwise I'll start to sound like Bill Simmons.
  • I couldn't believe how empty Comcast Center was. It's pretty sad that we can't fill the arena before tipoff for an ACC-Big 10 Challenge game. On TV it looked like both the students and the season ticket holders were to blame. For the students, if you aren't going to show up to basketball games, you should have just gone to UMBC. For the season ticket holders, if you aren't going to the game, GIVE AWAY YOUR TICKET. In the DC area, I find it very hard to believe that you couldn't find someone who would take your ticket and fill your seat. You have a responsibility to make sure that your seat is filled for every game. Otherwise you shouldn't have season tickets, let someone lower on the Terrapin Club priority list get them.
  • Even though the game was close the whole time, it didn't seem to bother the Terps. That's a good sign for a young team. There were 9 ties and 8 lead changes in the first half alone. there was never a lead of more than 8 points, and for the vast majority of the game, the lead for either team was under 5 points. In the past few years, Maryland has had trouble playing hard for the entire game. Against Illinois, the whole team gave 40 good minutes. they never let the Illini get a run or seize too much momentum.
  • I'm not sure how to explain the difference Braxton Dupree makes to the team, but I'm going to try.
    • Dupree takes pressure off Boom, letting him play more aggressively without worrying about fouls.
    • The upgrade from WillBo (who I really did like) to Dupree is like going from Sara Jessica Parker (a little weird, never quite lived up to potential, and was always vaguely disappointing) to Hayden Panettiere (young, hot, and with absolutely no ceiling).
    • Braxton fills the role the Terps have been missing most over the past few years: the sure thing big man. He's not going to make a lot of spectacular plays, he's not Gist or Chris Wilcox, but if you get him the ball underneath the basket, he'll score. If he turns out as good as Jamar Smith, I'll be happy. If he turns out as good as Ryan Randle or Lonny Baxter, I'll be thrilled.
    • His presence allows Gist to play PF (his natural position) when Boom is out of the game, without having to worry about staying in the low post.
    • I'm a little bit worried that my wife will leave me for Braxton Dupree, but I'm still a huge fan of his.
  • It's interesting how Greivis' role has changed since last year. He's started taking over more PG duties, which I opposed early in the season. He's proven to be a good leader on the court, though, and he's normally willing to look for the pass fist and the shot second. I was worried about where the new role would leave Eric Hayes, but it seems to have opened up Hayes' game to let him be more aggressive. The Terps are in great shape with two guards who can handle the ball, make their teammates better, create their own shot, and score in high pressure situations. They're not Blake and Nicholas, but they might turn out to be even better (blasphemy!).
  • I hate the new uniforms. Maryland has never had really great basketball unis, but the new jerseys with the black and gold piping down the back look terrible.

[J-Red's note: Also check out It Never Rains in College Park for additional, excellent in-depth analysis and a hilarious to-do list found at the Comcast Center last night. Actually, check it out often. It's very good.]

November 28, 2007

Sean Taylor - Levels of Abstraction

The events of today and yesterday reminded me of the flak Kellen Winslow, Jr., caught after a loss at Miami. He referred to himself as a warrior, and was met by much derision. Yet, of course, the players are referred to as "gladiators" who "go into battle" "in the trenches" by the expert commentators each Saturday and Sunday. Winslow was a close friend and former teammate of Sean Taylor.

This morning served as a wakeup call. As a Ravens fan, even I felt punched in the stomach by the news that Sean Taylor had passed during the night. I was willing to make ATV and salary cap jokes yesterday afternoon, when I thought he would survive.

Most likely, I was reminded of the mortality of my family and friends. I have been lucky enough to enjoy a life relatively free of grief. Sean Taylor, himself, did not mean very much to me, but he represents the idea that anyone can lose anyone they admire, identify with, or cheer for at any moment. The idea of it happening in one's own bedroom with one's own girlfriend and offspring was especially jarring.

b;ahalablahblahblahblahblah Yeah! Hurt somebody!

(With all apologies to Wilbon who prefers to use "I wasn't surprised" as a way to point out that young black men are dying young everywhere. Wilbon's forgiven. His point needs to be made, but this scenario might not match well.)

NFL players are not warriors or gladiators. They do not go into battle. If they did, we would expect them to die. When they do die, or experience a spinal injury, or fight dogs in their spare time, or murder their pregnant ex-girlfriend, or stumble out of an Atlanta-Buckhead club while two of their posse-mates fatally stab people, or get shot in the ass or neck, or smuggle a human's weight in weed, or kill someone in a drunken accident, we hurt. We feel personally injured.

Why is that?

blahbljakjahblah Let's cross here sweetie. He looks like trouble.

NFL players, and the teams for which they play, are proxies for our own self-image. When they do well, "they" becomes "we". You will rarely hear a football fan bemoan that "We aren't very good". Have you ever wondered why the cities who need something, like, say, Baltimore, Buffalo, Green Bay, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincy, Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, etc., tend to be the biggest NFL hotbeds? L.A. could give a shit, as could San Diego. (The list is AFC-heavy because the NFC/NFL established itself in the biggest cities and the AFC/AFL in the secondary cities.)

Think about it. We all know that guy. That guy who lives and dies with X college or NFL team. His entire existence, from car flags to basement shrine, is defined by the ups and downs of a defined number of people (most of whom are of a different race or physical build or intellectual composition) who play under that guy's colors due to chance (the draft, recruiting) or circumstance (free agency, transfer).

Anybody who knows me knows that I love the NFL more than I love most of my family members. My point is not to make some kind of statement about society, nor the Fall of Rome, nor capitalism, nor slavery. Just put this loss in perspective. Unless you met Sean Taylor, you just lost a good free safety via non-football means. Just like when Sam Mills of Carolina got cancer and Samari Rolle showed epilepsy, and Derrick Thomas died in a car accident, no fan can cope when their favorite number is lost off the field.

Did you ever think to wonder why the method of tribute always involves the player's number? Sean Taylor, the man, is not the source of grief in Washington. Number 21 is gone, and he will be sorely missed. Number 21 was an integral part of the Washington fanbase. Life/football without Number 21 is unimaginable.

I seriously heard people wonder if the game this week would be cancelled. Why? Because Sean Taylor died? No. Because Number 21 died, and that might have a negative impact on his teammates' ability to score points and limit the points scored by the opposition.

Sean Taylor is just another young urban black male murdered. Number 21 is a hero who the entire NFL will honor Thursday, Sunday and Monday.

November 27, 2007

Sean Taylor - Girlfriend Not Involved

Assuming new details emerging about the moments leading up to Taylor's murder are true, I am willing to say that the girlfriend is totally exonerated. There is no way she would be involved in something that would endanger herself and her child to this extent. The shots appear to have been fired wildly into the room where she and the infant were huddled.

Mood Lightener

I thought I'd take a break from speculating and casting aspersions to present a very funny anti-Dook website.

Safe for work. There is sound, but it's not offensive.

Sean Taylor Perspective and Racial Subtext

This morning I've had the opportunity to read various news accounts of Sean Taylor's passing. In addition, I subjected myself to Baltimore's ESPN radio on the way into work.

Obviously, Redskins Radio is putting this in the appropriate perspective. The fans and team loved Sean Taylor, and for different reasons. The teammates actually knew him, and loved him. The fans knew almost nothing about him outside of his play on the field, and they loved him. That combination makes his thus far inexplicable death even more painful. The fans know they were right to like him, because the people close to him did too.

Mike Wilbon spoke eloquently on Redskins Radio about how he wasn't shocked when he learned that Sean Taylor had been shot. He referred to Len Bias as the moment when sports fans, at least in the D.C. and Boston areas, realized that their sports idols were mortal. He also agreed that in the post-O.J. world, we cannot assume we know anything about our idols. For me, that was hammered home by Ray Lewis' murder indictment.

Mark Viviano of Baltimore's ESPN 1300 is upset that Sean Taylor, as a single violent crime victim, is getting so much attention. In Baltimore, this point plays well considering how many murders the city has seen this year. In addition, Viviano's own father was murdered in his taxi cab in the mid-1970's. I disagree. I think any crime that draws attention to how fucked up things are in certain parts of the country is worthy of examination.

I worry that many people outside of D.C. and Miami will see this far too superficially. What's that? A young black athlete was involved in a shooting? Ok. Next story. The truth is that Sean's race, at least from what we know presently, had nothing to do with this. He was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing. He was not only home on a Sunday night at 1:45 a.m., he was ASLEEP in his own bed, next to his girlfriend and their infant child. Darrent Williams and Joey Porter, though both apparently innocent shooting victims, were at least out late at night at clubs. This headline could have just as easily been "Tom Brady Shot in Apparent Home Invasion". I imagine the national reaction would be slightly different.

My personal take on this is that I hope there is something more to it. I do not want to accept that Sean Taylor was the random victim of a burglary/robbery attempt that went wrong. I don't want to think that suburban Miami neighborhoods have prowling thieves who carry drawn weapons and shoot at the first sight of a homeowner prepared to defend himself. If you set aside insanity, people murder for love and money. Since no money or valuables were taken 8 days ago when Taylor's house was ransacked, I have to think that only leaves indirect money (inheritance, life insurance, interference with a criminal enterprise, revenge) and love. If the two break-ins turn out to be unrelated, I might consider moving to Alberta.

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.

Week 12 NFL Against the Spread Recap and Standings

At least three of the four humans are over .500, even if two of them barely qualify. I still think we have a valid race through the last five weeks.

Brien (4-1-0) - CLE, GB, NE, SD, TB
Jeremy (3-2-0) - CLE, GB, NYG, OAK, WAS
J-Red (3-2-0) - DAL, DEN, JAX, NE, TB
Russell (1-4-0) - BUF, DET, KC, IND, PIT
Magic 8 (3-2-0) - CLE, DET, NYG, OAK, TB

Magic 8 (35-19-6 for .633)
Jeremy (30-24-6 for .550)
Brien (30-28-2 for .517)
J-Red (29-28-3 for .508)
Russell (25-33-2 for .433)

November 26, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Sean Taylor "fighting for his life"

FIRST POST 11:00 a.m. (Jeremy)
'Skins safety Sean Taylor was shot in his South Miami home at 1:45a.m. on Monday, November 26, and was airlifted to a local hospital in critical condition. Sources say he was shot in his femoral artery, the artery was possibly severed, at least was nicked, causing Taylor to suffer severe blood loss. If Taylor survives, and his artery was severed, it is possible that doctors will need to amputate his leg. If Taylor survives and his artery was not severed, it is still possible according to doctors interviewed on Sportstalk 980 that various nerves in the area may be affected by such a wound, impacting Taylor's ability to have full use of the leg.

UPDATED 12:35 p.m. (Jeremy)
Clinton Portis has now spoken to the media at Redskins Park. Apparently the team was told by Gibbs that Taylor is not out of the woods, that he may not survive, and that he lost a tremendous amount of blood. Various message boards and blogs, however reliable they are, are quoting persons close to the family as saying that doctors fear for Taylor's life, and that if Taylor survives, he still faces the prospect of loss of his leg or loss of athletic use of his leg and/or brain damage due to severe blood loss.

UPDATED 12:50 p.m. (Jeremy)
Reports on Sportstalk 980 that Taylor had to be revived twice by emergency medical personnel and reports by both NBC4 and Fox5 in Washington that Taylor is currently in a coma. No word on whether the coma is medically induced or not.

UPDATED 2:55 p.m. (Jeremy)
Somewhat conflicting reports are out there right now. Two of the more grim reports are as follows...

1) According to the University of Miami message boards, one of Sean's high school coaches has been in constant contact with the family. The coach has stated that Sean was shot in an area where it was very difficult to operate. The coach talked to the family around 12:30 p.m. and reported that Sean was out of surgery, that he may need another surgery, and that the prognosis was still critical. Apparently Sean lost so much blood that he suffered brain injury from the lack of oxygen flow to his brain. At a bare minimum, his playing career is over, and if Sean pulls through, there is a very long road to recovery ahead.

2) This is thirdhand knowledge, but a blogger who we are linked to lives in Northern Virginia and has a friend whose father works for the Redskins. Apparently the team is not optimistic that Sean will pull through. Dan Snyder has already left on Redskin One, and was accompanied on his flight to Miami with numerous members of the team. According to this person who works for the Redskins, Sean had decided to stay at his house with his daughter and girlfriend because his girlfriend became scared during this past weeek of what she perceived to be somebody staking out the home.

UPDATED 3:15 p.m. (Jeremy)
More not-so-good news breaking from The Washington Post:
Richard Sparpstein, who has represented Sean Taylor in legal matters in the past and is a friend of the family, said moments ago that the player's life is hanging in the balance in the hospital. Sharpstein, speaking from the hospital, said Taylor is "nonresponsive and unconscious" and the doctors are "worried about a possible brain injury or death." Sharpstein, who has been with Taylor's family at the hospital much of the day, said that there are major worries that Taylor may have lost oxygen to the brain, and that no other procedures are planned for right now. "They're waiting to see if he comes to," Sharpstein said. He was shot in the groin/thigh area near the femoral artery and lost copious amounts of blood. He was airlifted to the trauma center and endured several hours of surgery, Sharpstein said.

UPDATED 4:44 p.m. (J-Red)
By all appearances, this was a robbery. According to Sharpstein, Taylor heard a noise, grabbed a machete, and investigated. Unfortunately, it appears he had brought a (rather large) knife to a gunfight. The Miami Herald has the most complete report on what allegedly took place.

UPDATED 7:48 p.m. (J-Red)
The Washington Post and Redskins Radio are reporting that Vinny Cerrato confirmed that Sean Taylor did squeeze a nurse's hand and displayed facial expressions. Both are signs that his coma is not indicative of brain death. Also, earlier today Joe Gibbs noted that it was strange that Sean did not inform him that he was going back to Florida. There's just something slightly suspicious bubbling underneath the official version of this story.

UPDATED 1:10 a.m. (J-Red)
It's great news from Miami that Sean is responding to commands and squeezing hands. However, the weird information keeps piling up. According to the girlfriend, the phone lines were severed and she was unable to call 911 initially.

Burglars do their research. They don't sever phone lines unless they expect someone to be home. Burglars never want someone to be home. Hitmen sever phone lines, but they don't fire a shot into the groin and miss with the other shot. This reeks of an amateur hit.

Here's what troubles me more: You can't rule out that the girlfriend set Sean up to get killed. I know that Occam's Razor and the Rule of Parsimony say that we should give the most faith to the most obvious explanation, but frankly deciding to rob an injured NFL player at his home on a Sunday night is not the best situation for an opportunistic gun-toting burglar. There are just enough signs of a planned murder that I wouldn't let the possibility slip by quite yet.

UPDATED 7:15 a.m. Tuesday (Brien)
I'm sure J-Red and Jeremy will weigh in on this more when they wake up, but Sean Taylor passed away late last night. He apparently never regained consciousness at the hospital, but he did squeeze a nurse's hand at some point yesterday.

ESPN says that the intruder broke through the bedroom door (the Miami Herald and the Washington Post make it sound like Taylor left the bedroom on his own), which makes this sound less like a burglary. Really, nothing about the incident sounds like an attempted burglary. There was a reported break-in at Taylor's house 8 days ago. The intruder rifled through drawers, but nothing was stolen and a kitchen knife was left on his bed. Then, in the latest incident, nothing was stolen again, and the intruder fled immediately following the shooting.

I'm not ready to pin this on the girlfriend with such limited information, but I'm also not ready to believe that this was an attempted burglary.

UPDATED 1:26 p.m. Tuesday (J-Red)
CNN's version of events is the most complete at this point. Now it appears that Sean and his girlfriend heard noises in another part of the house. According to reports, Sean went to lock the bedroom door when it was kicked in and he was shot. During this, his girlfriend his underneath the covers. It is also now unclear whether the phone lines were cut or if the phone was just off or broken. The police have said there are signs of forcible entry. If this information is true, I'm willing to drop the possibility that she was in any way involved. However, it definitely points to a targeted killing rather than an attempted robbery.