The date November 27, 2007 will live in infamy for Washing Redskins’ fans. It was the day fans helplessly watched as the news broke that Sean Taylor had passed away from a gunshot wound during a home invasion gone wrong. Taylor has been revered as one of the most iconic players to wear the Burgundy and Gold and an inspiration to many players aspiring to play professional football.
Former New York Giant and current Redskins’ safety Landon Collins is a prime example of an elite talent that was touched by Taylor and made it a priority in free agency to join the Washington Redskins, when the Giants decided to go in another direction. The 6-year $84 million dollar contract seemed like more than enough motivation to sign with Washington. But make no mistake, Collins left more money on the table to sign with the Redskins. His desire to play for Washington was well publicized during the 2015 NFL Draft where he was selected 33rd overall by the Giants. During an interview in 2015 on NFL Network’s Path to the Draft, when asked what team he’d prefer to play for, Collins had the following to say,
“I grew up a Redskin fan. I was a big Sean Taylor and Clinton Portis fan. Those were my two favorite players, so I grew up seeing them play for the Redskins, so that would be my dream.”
Redskins fans are familiar with the Daniel Snyder’s dinner with Collins, in which he presented the safety with a signed Taylor jersey. The jersey was one of only two in Snyder's personal collection, which per Snyder’s assertion was near & dear to his heart. Collins made no gripes that receiving the jersey was one of the most emotional moments of his life and was in tears when his son opened the gift. Playing for the team that his childhood hero played for had become a dream come true.
As each season passes, players and fans continue to keep Taylor's memory alive. Fans witnessed newly signed Landon Collins flirt with the idea of wearing #21 during his first few days with the team. Collins himself mentioned that part of the reason he decided to go with #20 was based on his inability to meet with Taylor's family to discuss wearing #21. During his Redskins introductory press conference, he also stated that he hoped he could revisit to number change discussion.
“I hope to prove myself worthy in the future”
What is perplexing about this situation is, it would seem to be relatively easy to get a hold of Taylor's family, considering Collins’ reputation as an individual who idolized the Miami Hurricane star. To date no family member has gone on record stating that they're unhappy with Washington, but there have been rumblings that the family believes Dan Snyder has took advantage of Taylor's popularity with merchandising and benefited greatly financially with the loss of the iconic safety.
Snyder might not have any financial obligation to Taylor's family, but a gesture of good will, by finally retiring Taylor's #21 and adding him to the team’s Ring of Honor, would solidify him as one of Washington's most iconic players. Finally, the discussion of future and current players wearing his number as a Redskin could finally be put to bed.
Doing It the Right Way
With the NFL’s 100th anniversary approaching, honoring Sean Taylor with a #21 retirement ceremony at FedEx Field seems like a no brainer.
A ceremony in which the Redskins honor Taylor by inviting his family, former Redskins and Miami University teammates in a jersey retirement ceremony seems like the most logical approach with the latest jersey number discussion.
The late Sammy Baugh #33 is the only player to have his number retired in Redskins history. During the 2010 NFL Hall of Fame ceremony in which Russ Grimm was enshrined, Snyder stated the following to the Washington Post.
"We haven't retired numbers much here, before I got here. I think that we’re going to look at things in the future a little bit. Hopefully, we’ll make them proud.”
It's been 9 years since that Snyder statement, so it's overdue Mr. Snyder, for One Last Goodbye.