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Homer: Remembering Sean Taylor


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(photo by Brian Murphy)

This photo is one that I’ve never shared with anyone before. It’s a shot I took of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor in the moments after his team emerged victorious 35-20 over the New York Giants, Dec. 24, 2005.

That was my first year covering the Redskins and also happened to be the first time Washington made the playoffs in seven years. The win over New York on Christmas eve was the team’s fourth win in a row and the Redskins followed it up the following week by beating Philadelphia — thanks largely to Taylor’s 39-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

Two weeks after this photo was taken, the Redskins traveled to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers in a wild card match-up. I didn’t cover that game. Instead, my wife and I bought tickets and enjoyed the game from the stands.

That day, I opted to sport my Taylor jersey. Needless to say, I was thrilled when he gave Washington a 14-0 lead after recovering a fumble and returning it 51 yards.

At that point, I turned around to the few obnoxious Buccaneers fans who were giving me a hard time and said the following:

“Hey, do you mind if we fire off your cannons since you’re not using them?”

Looking back now, I fully admit that’s a completely ballsy thing to say to the hometown faithful. But let’s be honest – 1.) it’s funny and 2.) any stadium with a built-in pirate ship deserves to be mocked from time to time.

Now, everything was going according to plan that day until Taylor was ejected from the game for spitting in the face of Buccaneers running back Michael Pittman. Once that happened, it paved the way for seemingly every Tampa fan within two sections of me to start chanting and heckling me. Thankfully, most of it was lighthearted and good natured. There were a few jerks, but that’s to be expected.

Buccaneers fans couldn’t stop giving me grief for wearing the jersey of the guy who was just booted from a playoff game, and that play was also a sort of a turning point for Tampa Bay as they began to claw their way back into the game.

Ultimately though, the Redskins somehow managed to hold on and win the game, 17-10. And I got to walk away with a fun little story to tell about how simply wearing a Sean Taylor jersey to a playoff game nearly caused riot in the stands.

This weekend marks the fourth anniversary of his death and rather than sitting around being bummed out that he’s gone, I figured I’d rather remember one of my favorite moments involving one of the most exciting players to ever play for the burgundy and gold.


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great picture of a great player. As a Dallas fan I can tell you that there were moments when he absolutely ripped my heart out, the one that comes to mind is his return of the last second blocked field goal when he was face-masked. That allowed the Skins to win on a field goal with no time left. What a player. I often wonder what he could have accomplished in the league. Such a waste....

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Excellent work, Murf.

I'll never forget Taylor, I still think about what could have been and what should have been with him leading this defense over the years. Teams were scared to use the middle, and Gregg Williams was able to use Cover1 almost as a base defense it seemed because Sean could cover so much ground.

I remember the game against Green Bay when ST was tracking every ball Favre threw. Should have had 7 int's that day:ols: Wish he would have caught them all.

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Thanks guys. I honestly wasn't sure if I should do this write-up, since it's a lot more about me than Sean Taylor. Glad some of you appreciated it.

For those who might be interested, here's a link to my favorite photo I ever captured of Sean Taylor. Feel free to download it or whatever.

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Did you recognize the 10 man formation at the time, or were you just shooting the opening play of the game? Great moment of history captured regardless.

I was starting to take a picture of the opening play...then my buddies and I realized there was a missing defensive player....I still get chills thinking about it. Both the saddest yet coolest tributes I have ever seen in a football game. If I remember, it resulted in a pretty big gain on the left side for the offense. Gregg allegedly did this without letting JG know. It was awesome.

Still have my 21 towel(s) as well

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Still not sure people realize exactly how devestating ST's death was to this franchise. We were gaining stability under Gibbs, but weren't quite there yet. Then, your best player in over a decade is murdered and really, it unraveled from there. Gibbs rallied the troops for that one last run, but after that, the tank was empty. I think that completely drained Gibbs and the fansbase in general. Snyder begged Gibbs to stay I'd guess mainy because he had no idea what we should do after that. That indecision led to the Zorn fiasco.

I really do trace much of it back to ST's death. As a fanbase in general, I think we had come to a comfortable spot, albeit not a great one. Then, Taylor is murdered and things just crumble from there. Any team would be in trouble if their best player was murdered, but we were in an especially bad spot for that to happen.

To the younger crowd, ST is a God. I've noticed that over the years... The younger fans view him as a Mecca of sorts.

"Older" fans like myself who clearly remember the first Gibbs run seem to view ST as more of a tragic case of what might have been.

From 2004-2006 ST was very good, but not yet great. His coverage skills were still off at times and so of his big hits were coming a second too late (or too early). But in 2007, the switch had flipped. He was awesome that year. I was fortunate enough to attend back to back games that year... Detroit at home and in Lambeau in the next week. I had a good view of the field in Green Bay and I can tell you that he was just off the charts that day... Everywhere. Every time the ball went in the air, ST was there. Of course, that wound up being on of his final games.

I actually usually avoid ST tribute threads because instead of having a nice feeling of nostalgia, I usually just look back with regret and shake my head...

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Won't ever forget how gracious and friendly he was signing an autograph for us at the team hotel (picture from sig).

Also won't ever forget the absolute madness that ensued after the Dallas FG block return, and the Philly TD return, when we all ended up in a pile on the floor.

Still the only jersey I wear on gameday.

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RIP Sean.. i was lucky enough to get free tickets to his last game vs. the eagles.. had great seats behind the skins bench. little did i know that i would never see him play again..

i was there too. sitting right next to the tunnel.....crazy how i watched him walk off the field with that knee injury that we would never walk back out again

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