The Great Sean Taylor #21
The Meast (half man half beast) was the nickname Sean Taylor’s teammates gave to their dynamic safety. Ten years later we remember Sean Taylor on the anniversary of his death. His legacy is stronger than ever and young athletes model their game after him.
NFL safeties Landon Collins, Kam Chancelor and Redskins DJ Swearinger just to name a few, idolized Taylor and keep his memory alive every Sunday. Some NFL players even watch Taylor’s highlights during pregame for motivation and wear his NFL jersey numbers (#36 rookie & #21) in remembrance of his legacy.
When remembering Taylor and the horror that took place in his home 10 years ago, it’s important to keep in mind how short and precious live really is. Unfortunately the images of the news reports are still ingrained in our memories forever.
The B&G Report would rather remember Taylor for his play on the field and contribution to the game of football. As a huge Taylor fan and die hard Redskins fan, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a trip down memory lane during this day of remembrance.
The Days at The U
Taylor was a polarizing figure during his time at Miami University. As all Skins fans know, Taylor’s Redskin teammates Santana Moss and Clinton Portis also attended The U and had an unbreakable bond. The two frequently tell tails of the fierce safety playing cornerback, linebacker, Kick/Punt returner and even running back.
Ask the causal fan and they’ll probably tell you Ed Reed or Ray Lewis were the fiercest defenders ever to come out of Miami. If you ask Miami Alum and people who played with Taylor, they’ll paint a totally different picture.
Although Miami had some great players, no other impacted the college game the way Taylor did. I fondly remember the FSU rivalry games and how Taylor would always find himself in the endzone. One game in particular resonates in my memory.
It was a rain soaked game in 2003, in which both teams were 5-0. Taylor was all over the field that day as usual. The U safety recorded two interceptions that day and returned one for a 48 yard touchdown. After the 22-14 victory, Taylor was asked about the FSU rivalry and his impressive defensive performance.
“We’re going to come in here and punch them in the mouth and we weren’t going to stop punching”.
I became a Miami fan that second, not knowing my childhood team would make Taylor their first round pick the following year. He would finish that
Sean Taylor would be drafted 5th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. Saying that I was ecstatic that day would have been an understatement! My favorite player drafted from my favorite college team was drafted by my NFL team. It seemed like a draft day dream come true!
I once heard a great story about one particular Clinton Portis interview, following the Redskins drafting of Taylor. Portis stated he heard the Redskins brass was extremely high on Taylor’s teammate tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. The Miami tight end already had a a great Pro Legacy.
Junior’s father was Hall of Fame Chargers tight end Kellen Winslow Sr (played 1979-1987). After Portis heard the news he made it his mission to convince Head Coach Joe Gibbs and ownership that selecting Taylor would be in their best interest. Clinton mentioned a particular conversation of note that took place pre-draft with Joe Gibbs.
Gibbs mentioned that the Redskins desperately needed an offensive playmaker to pair with Portis. Former Giants TE Jeremy Shockey was selected two years earlier out of The U and had a huge impact immediately in New York’s offense. Gibbs hoped Portis’s former teammate Winslow Jr could have a similar role in the Skins offense.
Portis told Gibbs
“You’ll regret passing on Sean because he’s the best player in this draft!”.
Portis went on to say that Taylor was also the best offensive player he ever saw. He mentioned Taylor was used at multiple positions in practices, but not so much in games. Taylor was just to valuable as a defender to risk an injury, while playing offense. Well the rest is history and the Washington Redskins & Coach Gibbs made Taylor the centerpiece of their draft.
Although Taylor had some unbelievable highlights in his career, one game in particular is ingrained in my memory. The November 5, 2006 Dallas game was by far my favorite Sean Taylor memory (YouTube above).
Dallas lined up during a 19-19 tie to kick a game winning FG with under thirty seconds to go. Redskins veteran safety Troy Vincent blocked the field goal attempt! Taylor scooped up the ball and briefly bobbles it, but regained control and reversed field taking off towards the end zone. Taylor evaded multiple defenders, while advancing the ball all the way past midfield. He was finally tackled, but the Redskins weren’t in FG range.
The clock read zero, but yellow flags were all over the field. A Cowboy grabbed Taylor’s face mask during the return. The Redskins were given one untimed down based on the 15 yard penalty. The Skins went on to kick the game winning field goal with no time left defeating the Cowboys 22-19. That game will go down as one of the most exciting Sean Taylor moments.
When Taylor was on the field opposing players knew it. In 2017 everything seemed to be coming together. The birth of Taylor’s first daughter had a dramatic and visible change on him. Players and Coaches reported the tough guy who usually had a serious scowl on his face, was now smiling constantly.
Taylor took every opportunity to show friends, fellow players and coaches pictures of his baby daughter. He also brung his daughter to the Redskins facility, which was a big move for the notoriously private individual. He was a proud father and wanted to share his happiness.
That season would tragically be his last, after being gunned down during a home invasion. I’m not here to go over those horrible details, but how the franchise grew that year.
That season the Redskins wisely drafted LSU All American safety Laron Landry to pair with Taylor. The Redskins had big plans for Landry who would be mentored by the best. Early on the potential impact was evident and Landry seemed to take to Taylor’s advice.
The duo gained a reputation in only a few short games and were nicknamed “Area 51” (player jersey #’s 21 & 30 combined). Taylor compared the Skins defensive backfield to the infamous New Mexico restricted U.S Government facility, long been rumored to house UFO’s and Aliens. The facility was named Area 51 and was off limits. That’s how Taylor described the field while he was on it.
It seemed after Taylor’s passing, Landry’s only focus was hitting players and bulking up. Landry dealt with multiple suspensions for PED’s and was completely out of the league a few years later. Sometimes I dream of what the duo would have looked like if Taylor survived and continued mentoring the young Landry.
The Pro Bowl Hit
The time Taylor absolutely leveled Bills punter Brian Moorman in the Pro Bowl was a thing of beauty (YouTube above) and epitomized Taylor’s savagery.
Sean’s peers were busy talking about contracts, statistics and so on during the Pro Bowl festivities, but not Taylor. His fellow Pro Bowl teammates talked about seeing Taylor run wind sprints on the beach prior to the game, while others were at the bar or our partying.
Taylor wanted to be game ready and wasn’t taking this glorified all star game lightly. On one particular play the he Bills punter who represented the AFC, ran a fake punt and attempted to get to the first marker on the sideline. Taylor had other plans though.
If you haven’t seen the video you’re not a true Redskins fan. As the punter raced to the sideline he gets absolutely obliterated on the trick play! After the play concluded the Bills punter Brian Moorman actually ran over to Taylor to congratulate him.
Players joked that Sean never got the memo that this was just an exhibition game. Players agreed that he was feared by opposing players, but at the same time he was also well respected and admired within pro football circles. That play epitomized why Taylor was the fiercest player to ever strap on a helmet.
Impact & Legacy
As I previously mentioned many current/former NFL players modeled their game after Taylor. I’ve also seen many former linebackers moving to safety because of Taylor. Most players who are 6’2 + 230 lbs don’t play safety and usually don’t have 4.4 timed forty yard dash times.
More and more players are making the switch to the more glamorous safety position. Players like Ronnie Lott, Ed Reed, Rod Woodson just to name a few also contributed to the position intrigue, but Taylor changed the persona of playing safety in my humble opinion.
Sean’s legacy will be as an intimidator and one of the most athletic safeties to ever play the game. His true impact on the game though goes well beyond his ferocious hits. His work ethic and football intelligence are what his true legacy will be. Ten years later we remember Taylor and continue to keep his memory alive. RIP ST#21
Hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane, but it’s a short week and it’s DALLAS WEEK! Stay tuned for the next B&G Report!
Written By Adam Aniba