Most football fans went to bed on the night of November 26, 2007 thinking that Sean Taylor was going to be OK. There were reports that he had squeezed a hand in response to a question and that after a very difficult first day after having been shot in the leg during a home robbery, things were looking up. Taylor wasn’t out of the woods but he seemed to be on his way.
And then the next morning everyone woke up to the horrifying news that Taylor had died, unable to recover from the loss of blood from the wound to the femoral artery in his leg.
Suddenly, the player who was just beginning to turn potential into performance and had become the best player on the Redskins, the friend and teammate to Santana Moss, Clinton Portis and many others, the prized pupil of Joe Gibbs and Gregg Williams, and, most importantly, the doting father to 18-month-old Jackie, was gone.
We don’t know just how good Taylor may have been on the field. He had made the Pro Bowl in 2006 and had done enough in 2007 to earn—truly earn—posthumous honors.
It seems certain that those would have been the first of many trips to Hawaii for Taylor. He was just 25 and the only question was if he would be one of the best ever to play safety for the Redskins or if he would become one of the league’s greatest of all time.
The affects of the loss of Taylor were far reaching and are still felt today. Looking at the on-field aspects of tragedy, the Redskins have never been able to find even a competent safety to take his place. LaRon Landry, who was going to team with Taylor to form a fierce safety combo for years to come, is a natural strong safety who struggled when moved to Taylor’s free safety position. Reed Doughty, Oshiomogho Atogwe and Kareem Moore have tried and have either moved on or, in Doughty’s case, moved into a backup role. Madieu Williams, this year’s free safety, is unlikely to be a long-term solution, either.
While it seems certain that Taylor would have enjoyed a high level of personal success with the Redskins, we don’t know if the team would have been substantially better. But the fans and everyone else associated with the team has to wonder what might have been and reacts to the fact that a punk with a gun deprived us of the chance to find out with a mix of sadness and anger.
And of course, thoughts of what could have been. Earlier this season Sean's father, Pedro Taylor, addressed the possibility of his son playing on a squad with Robert Griffin III at the helm...