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Players, Coaches Honor Taylor's Memory

Posted Nov 30, 2008

And they do so each in their own way. Many simply try to play all-out and with greater intensity, just like Sean Taylor. Players have moved on from Taylor's tragic death last year, but they have not forgotten. Never forgotten.

Clinton Portis continues to wear a Sean Taylor tee-shirt underneath his jersey on game days.

Santana Moss, upon scoring a touchdown, continues to raise his hand to signal the No. 21--Taylor’s jersey number.

One year after Sean Taylor’s tragic death, every Redskins player and coach honors the late Sean Taylor in many ways.

For some, it’s just a matter of every day glancing at his Redskins Park locker, still covered with a glass encasing in a memorial.

For others, it is a matter of playing all-out and with just a little more intensity, just like Taylor did.

That is the best way to honor him.

“You appreciate every day and you don’t take any day for granted,” Shawn Springs said. “With me, when I think about Sean, I think about how he practiced and how he played. I just try to go out there to play as hard as he did--every game. I do that every game.”

Added H.B. Blades: “I’ve been very grateful for everything, for everything that God has given me, and the opportunity to play this game. Everybody on this team will never forget Sean.”

Taylor passed away on Nov. 27, 2007, after he was shot by an intruder in his Miami home.

It set off a time of mourning for the Redskins organization and fans. Players drew inspiration from Taylor right away, going on a four-game winning streak to make the playoffs.

It’s a year later, and Taylor will be honored on Sunday when he is inducted into the franchise’s Ring of Fame during a pre-game ceremony at FedExField.

The memories have returned.

Players have moved on--but not forgotten.

Never forgotten.

“It was definitely an emotional time when Sean was killed last year,” Jason Campbell said. “This year, we will be honoring him. He will be a member of our Ring Fame and it’s exciting to see his name go up there because he is a deserving player who practiced hard, played hard, and--even in the small time that he was in the National Football League--made his name be known. He put fear into offensive players to come across the middle and he was a playmaker.

“Outside of football, he was a guy in life that really influenced you. I can remember sitting outside one time after a tough loss and Sean was one of the first people to come up to me in the next week’s practice. He was having a conversation with me, telling me to keep my head up, continue to keep playing.

“He said, ‘You’re doing well, we all have to play better and all of these L’s will turn into W’s.’ It’s small conversations like that I remember having with Sean. Sean didn’t talk to a whole bunch of people and kind of kept things to himself, but I was fortunate enough to have a lot of conversations with him.”

What impressed Greg Blache the most about Taylor was how it seemed he had life figured out by the age of 23.

“Sean Taylor was a great football player, and everyone was cognizant of that,” Blache said. “But Sean was an even better person. And I don’t think everyone really knew that. I was able to watch Sean Taylor come in as this cocky, totally withdrawn person and develop into one of the kindest, most gentle human beings that I’ve ever been around.

“He was still a bit of an introvert and he kept to himself for the most part. He disdained the limelight and he didn’t want to do interviews. He just wanted to play football and spend time with his baby and family. He had life figured out at such a young age and he knew what was really important.”

Despite keeping to himself and becoming a "real homebody,” Taylor was generous with his friendship, Blache said.

“He was one of these guys that if you needed something, if you needed a friend, he was a great friend,” Blache said. “He was going to be there for you. That’s rare among people in general and it’s rare among guys with his talent. He was very unique.”

Portis and Moss were two of Taylor’s closest friends on the Redskins. All three attended the University of Miami and often worked out together in the offseason.

Taylor’s death hit Portis and Moss especially hard.

They both have changed, in subtle ways and obvious ways, in the last year.

They both take football more seriously.

"It’s definitely changed me, the way I handle and the way I carry myself,” Portis said. “I don’t worry about what other people think.”

Portis had been contemplating his legacy in football even before Taylor’s death. Now he considers it every day in his thoughts and actions.

“Sean didn’t like attention and he didn’t do characters like I did,” Portis said. “But you see the effect that he left behind. You realize, ’What’s my effect on people going to be when I’m gone? How are people going to look at me?’

“I think about that the way I come out and practice, pushing myself through [drills] that I would normally sit back and take a mental rep on. Just being accountable and always wanting to be giving, making sure you’re giving your all.”

During games, Moss says he often looks to the skies searching for inspiration from his friend.

On Sunday, as the Redskins and fans pay tribute to Taylor, Moss will look to the skies one more time.

“I hope we all go out and play lights-out football like Sean would have played,” Moss said. “That’s something I’ve tried to do this year: every time the game is in a critical situation, I’m looking up there knowing that this is a critical time and that ‘21’ would do something to make a play.

“It makes you want to go out there and be the best you can be, especially on his day. His day. It makes you want to go out there and give fans a memory of that day and what went on that day when it comes to Sean.”



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