It was almost unbearable for me to watch the Redskins these past two weeks without Sean Taylor on the field, even though I thought he would be back in just a week or so, as soon as his knee healed. I can’t even begin to imagine what it will be like watching this Sunday, knowing that I will never see his number 21 jersey again.
p. As many of you know, 24-year-old Washington Redskins pro bowl safety Sean Taylor died early Tuesday at Jackson Memorial Hospital, less than a day after he was shot in his Miami home. Taylor suffered a severed femoral artery which led to massive blood loss.
p. Like many fans who spent hours searching for news Monday, I went to sleep that night with optimism, thinking that Sean was going to be okay. Reports Monday night told of Taylor responding to a nurse’s request to squeeze her hand and showing facial expressions. However, that hope was short lived, as Tuesday morning fans everywhere awoke to the tragic news of Taylor’s death.
p. Sean Taylor was the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft out of the University of Miami, where he was an All-American. Taylor, nicknamed “Meast” by his teammates (half man, half beast), had been named as the hardest hitting player in the NFL by Sports Illustrated. He scored a defensive touchdown in Washington’s 2005 playoff victory over Tampa Bay, the team’s lone playoff win in the past eight seasons. In this, his fourth season, Taylor really started to make a name for himself as one of the league’s premier defensive players. Before spraining his knee in week 10, Taylor led the NFL in interceptions.
p. The Redskins defensive unit struggled without him on the field, giving up four passing touchdowns each in weeks 10 and 11. I know that Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens would never have caught four touchdown passes against the Redskins had Taylor been on the field. Taylor would have almost certainly been a member of this year’s pro bowl team and would have had many pro bowl appearances and playoff victories ahead of him. Instead, Taylor became another young male who tragically lost his life to gun violence.
p. Taylor was mired throughout his career with both on and off-the-field issues. But those close to Taylor, including teammate Clinton Portis and Head Coach Joe Gibbs, noticed his maturation since the birth of his daughter.
p. Sean has been my favorite Redskin since he was a rookie. In fact, he is the reason that the Redskins became more than just a passion for me, and for that I am forever grateful to him. I used to joke with my father that Taylor was the only Redskin for which I had unforgivable love, because while I would get angry with other Redskins players when they made mistakes, my opinion of Taylor never wavered, regardless of his on or off-the-field actions.
p. Far surpassing any of his on-field acheivements, however, is the way Taylor gave up his life defending his girlfriend of seven years, Jackie Garcia, and his 18-month-old daughter. Garcia huddled under the covers of their bed holding their child in her arms as Taylor was shot by the intruders. Actor Andy Garcia, Jackie’s uncle, said the following about Taylor in an article in the Miami Herald:
p. “His heroic action on that tragic night saved their life and is a testament to his humanity and courage. His spirit will live forever, in our hearts and through the legacy of his achievements and the family he leaves behind.’’
p. I will remember Sean Taylor as a true son of Washington, a brave caught on the warpath.
p. __E-mail Andy Andrews at [email protected]__