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Sean Taylor: Celebrity Injustice

Sean Taylor: Celebrity Injustice

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

As some of you have noticed, the Sean Taylor legal case has not been discussed much here since it broke early last June. Perhaps such an omission has been irresponsible journalism on my part, but I had never seen enough about the details of the case to understand what happened. Believe it or not, I actually want to be informed about something before I form an opinion on it and, at least in in articles I've been able to find, the details of what actually happened have been very sketchy.

That is, in the articles I've been able to find up until today. I found this New York Times article by one Robert Andrew Powell. I'm not sure if Powell is a sports reporter or a legal reporter but he is definitely a reporter. He did some legwork, got access to the case file, interviewed one of the men involved in the incident and pieced together the best, most complete account to date of the confrontation that landed Taylor in legal hot water.

The picture painted is disturbing in many respects. I'm going to clip a few excerpts here, but I don't want to take too much of Powell's work. If you want to follow the rest of this blog, I'd suggest that you click on the link to Powell's story and read that and then come back.

Taylor, who had signed a multi million dollar contract a year earlier, was hanging out with a friend named Michael McFarlane in West Perrine, which Powell describes as, "a depressed community south of Miami." He brought along his two new ATV's to cruise the side streets and the lawns of the housing projects. At the end of the day, Taylor left them parked in McFarlane's lawn even though he didn't stay at his house.

The next morning the ATV's were gone. Yes, this just in, if you leave expensive items unsecured in housing projects overnight, they just might get stolen. To compound the stupidity, instead of calling the police Taylor, McFarlane and another unidentified man jumped into Taylor's truck and another car to cruise the neighborhood to try to find the vehicles.

For some reason they confronted a man named Ryan Hill, who was hanging out in the neighborhood with some friends and demanded to know where the ATV's were. Hill denied knowing where they were and that's when the confrontation started. Powell interviewed Hill for this story:

"He (Taylor) started talking nasty and stuff, talking about how: 'The police can't touch me. I own this town,' " Hill, 22, said in an interview on the stoop outside his mother's public-housing apartment in West Perrine, where he lives with her, a brother and a sister.

According to Hill and other witnesses, Taylor exited his truck, pulled a gun out of his waistband and pointed it at Hill and a couple of his friends. Witnesses said another man pulled out an M-16 and demanded that Hill return Taylor's A.T.V.'s. When Hill denied stealing the vehicles, Taylor and the other man left in their cars. Both vowed to return and kill everyone present, according to depositions from Hill and other witnesses.

Obviously, if this is true, Taylor committed a crime here in pointing a gun at people and by threatening to kill them. He and the other men then left and further compounded the already already compounding stupidity and bad judgment by returning with a "posse". A fistfight evidently started by Taylor ensued and ended when Hill and his group fled. So now we have another crime committed by Taylor in starting a fight.

As if all of this wasn't strange enough, there was one final twist. Taylor drove his GMC Yukon back to McFarlane's house, parked it in front, and went inside.

A silver car pulled up. Hands poked out of the car's windows. From inside the house, McFarlane noticed guns and dived to the floor, according to depositions given by witnesses to Taylor's lawyers.

The Yukon was struck at least 15 times, and the police recovered 27 bullet cases, according to the police report.

Taylor was not at the house when police arrived. He turned himself in to police three days later to face one count of felony assault and one count of battery. In January, Dade County DA Michael Grieco, a/k/a DJ Dirty Sanchez, filed two additional felony assault charges. Since there was a gun involved in the assault cases they each carry a mandatory minimum of three years in jail if Taylor is convicted of them.

With the warning that I'm not a lawyer and not intimately familiar with what goes on every day in the housing projects near Miami or elsewhere, let me take a stab a summing this up. Two vehicles costing thousands of dollars each were stolen. Two men, one of them Taylor, drew guns and made threats. A fight involving a "posse" and Hill's group of friends broke out. A car filled with men drive by and with multiple guns and apparent disregard for the safety of whoever was in McFarlane's house or any bystanders who may have been present unloaded a couple of clips of bullets into Taylor's truck.

And in all of this Sean Taylor, the one whose ATV's were stolen and whose truck was shot up, is the only one charged with a crime. Isn't it fair to say that he was the victim of a couple of crimes himself? That doesn't excuse the crimes, of course, but if this was such an outrageous happening that someone who didn't fire a single shot is facing nine years in the slammer for it, what about his co-conspirators? What about whoever stole the ATV's valued at thousands of dollars? What about the ones who did the drive by?

It's important to note two other points here, points that in many cases would be causes for leniency when it came to considering a sentence for a defendant. First, there doesn't seem to be any premeditation on Taylor's part; whatever crimes were ones committed in the heat of the moment. Second, it's very important to note that when he returned after making the death threats, Taylor was not armed.

One does not have to be a Redskins homer or a skeptic to think that this reeks of a case of a publicity-hungry DA going after the only famous person involved in the whole mess. We do know that the Grieco was using press clippings from the case to promote his second career as the above-mentioned DJ Dirty Sanchez. Apparently, going after some guy named Hill doesn't generate enough pub to make it worth the additional time. Might cut into the clubbing time, don't ya know.

When we use the term "celebrity justice" it usually is in reference to a case where a famous person gets a slap on the wrist for a crime that would have brought the full hammer of justice down on us average folks. In this case with Sean Taylor, we seem to have the mirror image of that with very serious charges being brought for an incident that, while it calls for legal action, does not seem to be serious enough to warrant the possibility of such a severe penalty.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 2: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game that the Redskins played from the time they moved to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. To get details on the book and ordering information, go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com

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Need to Know: Redskins pre-camp 53-man roster projection, offense

Need to Know: Redskins pre-camp 53-man roster projection, offense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 24, three days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 204 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 48 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 17
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 26
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 41

Redskins roster projection—offense

The Redskins strap it up and start the battle for roster spots in earnest in just three days. Some are locks, others are hoping to hang on. Here is my prediction of the roster will shake out along with players who are on the bubble. The offense is up today, the defense tomorrow.

Players I have making the roster who are new to the organization in 2017 are in italics. Rookies are also underlined.

Quarterback (3)

Starter: Kirk Cousins
Backups: Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld

Cousins and the team didn’t agree on the contract but that changes nothing for 2017. The elimination of two-a-day practices makes a fourth “camp arm” QB unnecessary so these three will handle all the snaps from now until when the season ends.   

Running backs (3)

Starter: Rob Kelley
Backups: Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson

Bubble: Mack Brown, Keith Marshall

Kelley skipped the drive-through window meals during the offseason, switching to a healthier diet to get himself in better shape. He will need to be strong to hold off Perine, who will make a push for playing time. Brown could be on or off depending on numbers elsewhere on the roster. If Marshall can stay healthy, he could force his way into the picture but the health is a big “if”.

Wide receivers (6)

Starters: Josh Doctson, Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder (slot)
Backups: Maurice Harris, Ryan Grant, Robert Davis

Bubble: Brian Quick

I’m not sure if Grant, who caught nine passes while playing in all 16 games last year, should be a lock but it appears that he is. Davis is a projection; he has a lot to learn but if he is showing significant progress he could push out the veteran Quick, who was not impressive during the offseason practices.    

Tight ends (4)

Starter: Jordan Reed
Backups: Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, Jeremy Sprinkle

Bubble: Derek Carrier

Paul and Sprinkle could be considered on the bubble as well. The normal allowance is for three tight ends on the 53-man roster. Reed and Davis are locks, they need Paul for special teams, and Sprinkle is slated to be the blocking tight end. But Sprinkle needs to add a lot of polish to his game and Paul has the injury bug to fight. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Offensive line (9)

Starters (left to right): Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses
Backups: Ty Nsekhe, Arie Kouandjio, Vinston Painter, Chase Roullier

Bubble: John Kling

The starters are locked in unless Kouandjio can come up with a huge camp and push Lauvao out of the starting job. Roullier could be the backup center but if he’s not ready the Redskins could look for a veteran off the waiver wire for that spot.

Offensive breakdown: 25 players, four rookies, a total of five new to the Redskins.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

Every NFL training camp is different, but there are a few consistent things you can count on happening at each one each year.

At some point, for example, a star will say that he's "just excited to hit a guy wearing a different colored jersey" after about a week of practicing against his teammates. Also on the list: a coach will tell reporters that his defense plans on being more aggressive and hopes to create more turnovers in the regular season.

One of the more pleasant camp traditions, meanwhile, is that undrafted rookie who goes from stand-in to stand out and makes the team by impressing in drills and preseason contests.

But while there will be plenty of time in the coming weeks for trying to figure out who'll do that for the Redskins in 2017, let's instead look back at a handful of the players who've already accomplished that in the past with Washington. Here are the seven best undrafted free agents the franchise has unearthed since 2010.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER WITH KEY STATS FOR KIRK COUSINS IN 2017

Logan Paulsen (2010)

No one will ever mistake Logan Paulsen's film for Rob Gronkowski's, but the former UCLA Bruin held down the third tight end spot for the Redskins from 2010-2014.

His two best years came in 2012 and 2013, where he posted 25 and 28 catches respectively, scored four total times and was on the receiving end of this magical fourth-down pass from Robert Griffin III against the Giants, a play that might've just been the peak of Griffin's rookie year. Now 30, Paulsen is reuniting with Kyle Shanahan out in San Francisco, continuing to exceed expectations and extending what's been a fruitful NFL career.

Will Compton (2013)

Will Compton's made a steady climb up Washington's roster since entering the league as a free agent linebacker out of Nebraska.

He was cut in his first season back in 2013 but latched onto the practice squad. He eventually debuted near the end of 2013, though, and made the 53-man squad the next go-round. 2015 was when he first started playing regularly, then last year he started 15 contests while also serving as a captain.

In 2017, he'll have to compete with Zach Brown and Mason Foster for a starting gig, but he figures to play plenty no matter the outcome and he's one of Jay Gruden's most trusted defenders. Not bad for a guy who has admitted he "wasn't confident" as a rookie:

Houston Bates (2015)

Special teams often is the avenue a college free agent has to take to make a roster, and Houston Bates is an example of one who's been there, done that. He's appeared in 24 games for the Redskins in his first two NFL campaigns and will look to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last December so he can add to that total in year three.

Before that injury, he was Washington's most active special teams player with 292 snaps in 14 contests.

Quinton Dunbar (2015)

Quinton Dunbar has not only overcome being an undrafted free agent; the former Florida Gator has also made the successful transition from wide receiver to cornerback, too.

Like his classmate Bates, Dunbar has participated often in 2015 and 2016, and like Paulsen, his biggest moments have come against the Giants. As a first-year pro, he picked off Eli Manning in the end zone to the delight of a raucous FedExField crowd, and as a sophomore, he helped complete a risky fake punt and also notched another (absolutely insane) INT in New York:

Rob Kelley (2016)

This offseason, Jay Gruden joked that Rob Kelley has worked his way up from "ninth-string" to starter. He laughed as he said it, but it may not have been that big of an exaggeration.

Kelley never rushed for more than 420 yards at Tulane, but he ripped off 704 last year for the 'Skins. Now he's the top option in a talented backfield, and while Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson are nipping at his heels for carries, Gruden has repeatedly said how much he loves Kelley. He'll be fed plenty in 2017.

Anthony Lanier (2016)

Anthony Lanier's on this list not for what he's done, but for what he's projected to do. Gruden uses not one but two really's to describe how excited he is about Lanier, and a couple of months of working with assistant Jim Tomsula might be all the lineman needs to make the jump from a project to a problem. 

Maurice Harris (2016)

Last on the list is a receiver who displayed sure hands and a knack for converting third downs in limited action last year. Maurice Harris now looks like he'll be an early option off the bench in Gruden's offense and should see the field far more often than he did in the second half of 2016.

You may not be fully sold on Harris, but it sounds like his teammates are, so don't be surprised if he breaks out and develops into another option for Kirk Cousins:

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