(Philadelphia, PA) — As someone, who is part of the “NFL Family”, I can only feel remorse today (November 27, 2007) as I have learned that Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor (24) died this morning from a gun shot wound suffered yesterday. The former University of Miami star (the fifth overall selection in 2004) had been shot in the upper leg during an apparent break-in, losing significant blood that led to his horrific death. Doctors had been encouraged late Monday night when Taylor squeezed a nurse’s hand, but he never regained consciousness.This type of situation like last season’s shooting death of Denver Broncos CB Darrent Williams brings to light the fact that the NFL is just a game and that our society has a horrible history of violence especially in the African American community. Everyone needs to understand that gun-crimes are happening everywhere and to anyone – Small town America to Urban cities – including NFL players. I know where I live in Philadelphia shooting deaths are reported everyday like the weather and they are reaching an alarming rate (362 dead so far this year). No one is safe and I appeal to the lawmakers, law enforcement, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to help curb these problems — Alright I am off my soapbox.
Taylor unfortunate death came at a time when he was growing on and off the field. He did not play in the Redskins loss on Sunday to the Bucs due to a knee injury, but he was leading his team in interceptions with five and he appeared on his way to his second Pro Bowl. Taylor in the past had an unfortunate history of run-ins with the NFL on and off the field (hitting violations, uniform infractions, spitting incident, off the field fights, and other acts), but he seemed to be getting his life together with the birth of his 1-year old daughter Jackie. He was even considered one of the emerging leaders in the Redskins locker-room along with quarterback Jason Campbell, fellow Safety Laron Landry, Offensive tackle Chris Samuels and others. Teammate receiver James Thrash said of his fallen teammate “From the first day I met him, from then to now, it’s just like night and day”. He added “He’s really got his head on his shoulders and has been doing really well as far as just being a man. It’s been awesome to see that growth.”
No one knows how the team will respond as some may take a while to mourn and others may use the loss of their teammate as a rallying cry. I know from my experience following the Philadelphia Eagles loss of teammate Jerome Brown in a car accident before the 1992 season that many teammates called the traumatic event a “hole that could never be repaired”. The Eagles went on to a 10-6 record playing in a fog for most of the season, many times looking for their brother to them out of a rut and they even took his locker with them on game days. But the ghost of Brown kept lingering in the player’s psyche.
No one has a crystal ball, but we do know that the Redskins have suffered a horrible loss that will take time to heal and they have to play the Buffalo Bills this Sunday. But the machine that is the NFL will keep moving and now a 5-6 reeling team has to deal with a terrible tragic loss. Coach Joe Gibbs said of his hard hitting free safety, “He loved football. He felt like that’s what he was made to do”. The hall of fame coach added “And I think what I’ve noticed over the last year and a half … is he matured. I think his baby had a huge impact on him. There was a real growing up in his life.”
Miami-Dade Police are investigating the attack, which came just eight days after an intruder was reported at Taylor’s home.
R.I.P – Sean Taylor you were taken away from us too soon.