How do you measure the lasting impact of Sean Taylor?

The conventional methods suggest starting with a scan of his nearly four seasons of statistics; projecting how one of the fiercest safeties in the league would have looked in the future; watching his highlights from college and the NFL and determining how his size and athleticism would have only grown into his prime; counting all of his awards and accomplishments and how they’re still celebrated today.

The more valuable way to answer that question would be to speak with those who knew him --those that watched him from the stands, played with him, played against him, coached him, spent time with him away from the field and at home.

Ten years since Sean Taylor’s tragic death, we look back at his life through a compendium of stories as told by those close to him – confidants, ex-teammates, opponents, coaches – that illustrate all of his dimensions as a player and person. These mostly untold tales include everything from wrestling matches to late-night video game sessions to making tackles after the whistle had blown.

Enjoy.

I THINK ABOUT HIM ALL THE TIME

DAN SNYDER
REDSKINS OWNER

I have so many great memories of Sean Taylor the Redskins’ football player, but the greater privilege for me was getting to know who Sean was as a man. On the field, he could clearly do it all. Sean would have played any position on offense, defense, and special teams if the coaches would have allowed it. I loved standing on the sidelines before our games watching him warm up, in awe of his rare athleticism.  Sean loved to catch punts pre-game as part of his routine and I’m confident if the coaches had asked him to actually do that in a game, he could have been an elite returner. As Sean and I got to know each other, we had many great laughs together. As a team, we’d have a barbecue restaurant cater on Fridays during the season for lunch, and I love barbecue.  I’d sit down for my meal with a full plate, and Sean would often come find me. He’d say, “Why would you eat this, why would you eat that? This stuff is terrible for you. You can’t do it, Dan!.” He was busting my chops, and I loved it. We’d always have fun jokes like that and give each other a hard time. There is no doubt in my mind that Sean was not only on his way to being one of the greatest Redskins of all time, but one of the NFL’s best players, period. I miss him, and think about him all the time.

KING OF THE MIAMI RING

ROCKY MCINTOSH
MIAMI TEAMMATE (2001-2003); REDSKINS TEAMMATE (2006)

One thing we did in the [Miami] locker room was called “King of the Ring.” We had a new locker room, it was just redone. We had couches all lined up in a U-shape form. In the middle of the couches, that was our wrestling arena. Everybody would get in there and once in a while we’d call out an old guy versus a young guy and they’d get in there and start wrestling. The very first time we did it, during training camp, it was Sean versus Chris Campbell. Chris was another one that passed away from an accident. But everybody knew Chris as “Grip.” If you ever shook Dexter Manley’s hand, it was just like that, he would just squeeze the crap out of your hand. Sean volunteered and everybody would be standing to the side. Sean was just happy to get in and challenge somebody. They start wrestling and actually Sean got choked out. He was like the leader of our group of all the freshmen that came in that class. To go in there and step up and have some courage and go wrestle Chris, that was pretty cool. After that it became a royal rumble and guys got in there. We were wrestling around, there were no coaches. Nobody got seriously hurt, went out to practice and carried on. It was a bonding experience. But for him to go first, that really stood out, like he’s not afraid of anything.

FILM RAT

STEVE HOWEY
MGULLIVER PREP HIGH SCHOOL HEAD COACH (1997-2000)

He was one of the rare kids that would want to know as much about his opponent as possible. So, every day at lunch, he would bring his lunch down to my office and watch film, and he was with me in there, or sometimes without me if I had to cover a class. No matter what, he was always watching film trying to get better at what he was doing on offense and defense and special teams and trying to see weaknesses in opponents each week. I know kids watch film, but most of the time it’s when the coach says, “We’re watching film on Monday and that’s it.” He would watch every day to prepare for that week. It didn’t matter how good or how bad the team was. He was always coming down and preparing every week…When I first met him, he came to our 7-on-7’s and he would play as if it were regular tackle football game, and he was so aggressive that the coaches would come up to me and say, “Coach, can you get him to go easy on our guys?” This is just 7-on-7. It was hard for him to tone it down. It was all or nothing. He still went full, and teams just avoided throwing in his area or dealt with it. Nobody stood up to him.

ONE OF THE GREATEST

JOE GIBBS
REDSKINS HEAD COACH (2004-2007)

[The draft process] was real intense, because we went down to Miami and we had [Kellen] Winslow, the tight end who was there, Sean was there, and then we had a linebacker [Jonathan] Vilma was there, and all three of those guys we were talking about. I think that was very enlightening. All the coaches went down there. We saw all three of them work out. Then I think we brought them in for visits, obviously, but I think after we finished those workouts, I think as we sat and talked about it from a coaching standpoint, we kind of settled on Sean. You talk about what he would mean to the team, the way he performs, his leadership ability. The other thing I had was Clinton Portis calling me every day going “Sean Taylor. Sean Taylor. Sean Taylor.” Clinton called me every other day…

When he first came in, he stayed a lot, I guess you could say, by himself in a way. He was not looking to have conversations with the coach. But then, the farther we went in the time that he was with us, with the Redskins, both of his children definitely changed him a lot. He spent a lot of time with our chaplain there and I think he made a big decision about his spiritual life and all of a sudden, he would walk down the hall going, "Hey coach, how are you doing?” His life, in the short time he was there, I think, took a definite, different approach. He had that little baby with him. The more he thought about life, I think he made some changes there from a faith standpoint.

He was such an individual. His thoughts were his own thoughts. The way he trained, I mean you look up out our window –­­ and we’re talking about before practice, this was before practice – he would be running wind sprints on the field. I mean, before practice. He was just such an individual, there’s no other player that’s going to do that before practice, go out there and wear yourself out. The things that I think about him, when I think about him, I honestly think had we not lost him, I think he would have gone down as one of the greatest players in NFL history.

THE CHESSMASTEr

KEDRIC GOLSTON
REDSKINS TEAMMATE (2006-2007)

In the Player’s Lounge, I think it was in 2007, we used to have that break between the walkthrough and practice and we’d go in there and you didn’t really think much of it, but Sean Taylor started coming in there, and I don’t play chess, but I can remember him and Anthony Montgomery and Chris Wilson playing these real intense chess games. Here we all are, young guys trying to figure our way into the NFL, and he would come in there two or three days a week and come in there and play chess. He was super competitive at whatever he did. I want to say maybe Wilson beat him one time and that’s what kept him coming back because he needed to get the win. In the summertime, after OTAs was over, you would just see somebody running on Loudoun County Parkway, 100 degrees outside, in a full sweat suit with a hood on. Obviously if you knew him, you would recognize it was him. You might ask him about it. He’d be like, "Yeah, but you know, keep that between us." He didn’t want anybody to know. I don’t think he ever wanted it to be about him, it was always about the team and trying to help the team.

FISHING IN THE GULF

BUCK ORTEGA
TEAMMATE AT GULLIVER PREP HIGH SCHOOL AND ROOMMATE AT UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI

He and I were new to [Gulliver Prep]. We knew we were athletes, we’d work out and stuff, but we started fishing, so that was our first connection. He absolutely loved to fish. I think he had grown up fishing with an uncle of his. Once he went pro, we kind of lost contact, we didn’t talk all the time. One summer in Miami, I run into him at a bait store. I’m like “What are you doing? He’s like, “We’re heading out fishing tomorrow. I’m going to run over to the Bahamas for a day.” I said, “Who with?” He had bought a boat. That was just an absolute passion of both of ours. That’s why I went to the University of Miami, I wanted to stay there and fish. To know that [Sean] had made it to where he was buying himself a nice offshore boat…He was competitive on the water. Him and I love to spear fish, where you’re diving under the water and shooting fish, always really good-eating fish, snapper and grouper. It was, “Who’s going to shoot the biggest fish?” “Who’s going to have the tallest tale to tell at the end of the day?” Him and I enjoyed doing that just as much as playing football. He knew what he was doing. Trust me, I took tons of my college teammates over a time, and most of it was untangling lines and helping them do this and helping them do that. Sean was just another guy on the boat. He loved it on the water.

THE EQUIVALENT TO A LEBRON JAMES

VINCE WILFORK
MIAMI TEAMMATE (2001-2003)

One thing about being part of the Hurricane family, we always did things together. If it was the offensive line, the defense, you name it, we always considered ourselves family, especially being on the same side of the ball [with Sean]. We played Saturdays, so Friday would be our little walkthrough. We would always switch jerseys around on that Friday and before practice we would be out 15 minutes before playing a pick-up game of [two-hand touch] football. The rules were nobody could play the same position. Well, it got so competitive and so out of control that we would come out an hour before practice on our own and play that game. You’re talking about fun, argumentative. We were a bunch of kids that loved to play football. Me and Sean would always switch [jerseys]. I would have Sean’s jersey on, he would have mine on. Sean’s playing defensive line, I’m playing cornerback or receiver. It was just a good time. It was just all players and then all of a sudden the coaches would come out and watch us play. If you would see our practices, you would understand how we really were a family.

Sean could play whatever position he wanted to play. Sean was the equivalent to a LeBron James. You put LeBron on the floor, you can put him at everything from a one to a five. And that’s how Sean was. If we had to have Sean come down and put his hand in the dirt and be a defensive end, Sean could have done that, because Sean was 6-foot-4, 245 pounds that could run a 4.4, 4.3 [40-yard dash]. He was just a freak of nature. That’s what he was. It was no question, pound for pound, Sean was the best athlete that we had.

THANKSGIVING SEND-OFF

SANTANA MOSS
REDSKINS TEAMMATE (2005-2007)

It was around the holidays. The same weekend we lost him. Thanksgiving day, I remember coming in to practice and Sean just had a different joy about himself. As a child, my grandma used to always tell us that you can almost see someone when they’re about to leave us. I never knew what she meant about it. “It’s a glow about them,” she said. “It’s something a little bit different. You don’t know it, but you feel it and you see it.” I remember that day Sean went down the row of coaches and players and told everyone personally "Happy Thanksgiving." We sat by each other in the big team meeting room and we’d also been in the training room the prior two or three weeks, but I remember sharing a lot of talks with him and just seeing where he had come from and where he was going in his life, that day was kind of awkward to me. Even though it was a day of joy, and a lot to be thankful for, to hear him go out of his way and do that, it meant something to me. I’m looking like, what has gotten into Sean? Just to think some days later he wouldn’t be here anymore, that stood out the most to me. That was the last day that I really shared with him and some of the laughs we had. My memories always lead back to that moment, me asking him, “Why did you do that?” And he was like, “I’m happy Tana, and we should be thankful.” It was strange for me to go see him do that because it wasn’t normal.

I THOUGHT Y'ALL WERE FRIENDS

ANDRE JOHNSON
MIAMI TEAMMATE (2001-2002)

He’s the best player I’ve ever played with. We practiced against each other every day. It was fun. It was some of the most competitive practices I’ve ever been a part of. We had a team full of guys that were able to go and play in the NFL. I played against him once [in the NFL]. It was funny. If I had 10 catches, I think Sean hit me 10 times. There was one hit where I kind of flew on the sideline and he grabbed me and picked me up and said, “C’mon, Dre, let’s go.” It just seemed like any pass I caught he was right there to tackle me. Even after the game, some of my teammates were like, “Man, I thought y’all were friends.” I just told them, "Man, that’s Sean." Once you’re in between the white lines, it don’t matter who you are. He’s going to do what he needs to do to help the team win. It was fun.

A HIT THAT STAYS WITH YOU

FRANK GORE
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI TEAMMATE (2001-2003)

 

I remember when he was in Pop Warner, he was still the same guy, you know? Top dog. When we played against Killian [High School] – we were sophomores and won against each other – he had a pretty good hit on me. When we were juniors, I didn’t know he [transferred] to Gulliver. When we played Killian, I was looking for him to see where he was at because of how hard he hit me the year before. Sean was a true football player, you know? I played against him once [in the NFL]. I think one play, he kind of eased up because we were boys, you know what I’m saying? He could’ve got me one time and I jumped up in the air my rookie year playing out there in D.C. I was surprised he didn’t hit me.

FIFTEEN SECONDS OF FAME

BRIAN MOORMAN
BILLS PUNTER (2001-2012)

Moorman's only interaction with Taylor was during one play, when he tried to run a fake punt for a first down. Taylor met him viciously with one of the most watched highlights of his career.

For my thought process, I had no intention of cutting up. I looked at the defense and they were all just moseying around. There was nobody with their ears pinned back. We all know if you’re going to fake a punt, you’ve got to fake somebody out. There was not going to be anybody faked out. So I said I’m going straight to the sideline. But then John Lynch came and he blocked out Derrick Brooks and I don’t know, it was just instinct, I saw the block and I was like, “I can make it.” I didn’t make it any further than that cut. Impact-wise I can still hear it. I tell people all the time, it’s probably one of the best exposures for Reebok that could happen because my feet were above my head. When you stop at that frame, I’m horizontal to the ground. He got me good. In that sense, I’m able to take pride that I was able to take that kind of a hit. He caught me right on my shoulder. I can say that because there’s still a little fleck of his facemask paint embedded in that jersey and a hole in the shoulder. It’s the only jersey I framed frontwards because you can see that. All the rest of them are framed backwards. You can see a little bit of yellow paint if you get up close. It’s right there. I didn’t realize that until I framed it. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, that’s crazy.” There were pictures of just before me being hit. I could never find a picture of me getting hit. It’s one of the most memorable parts of my career.

I tell people that was my 15 seconds of fame. Every year I still get text messages or emails or calls or somebody tweets at me or whatever it might be. At the end of my career, I’m sitting having lunch in the cafeteria, a couple of rookies sitting there with myself and Kyle Williams, still in Buffalo, and they’re talking about it. Kyle looks at them and goes, “You realize that was him, right?” They were like, “No way.” Taking a shot from Sean like that is once in a lifetime.

YOU CAN DO THINGS I CAN'T DO

REED DOUGHTY
REDSKINS TEAMMATE (2006-2007)

Sean got hurt versus Philadelphia at home. I’m in my second year and we have Pierson Prioleau on our roster, who’s an eight-year veteran. My immediate thought is he’ll start. They came to me early that week and said, "Hey, you’re going to be starting this week when we go down to Dallas." Sitting in those meetings, my own thoughts are, "Why aren’t we starting the eight-year safety?" And Sean, in those meetings, told me, "You can do things that I cannot do." And I’m like "Sean, you’re a Pro Bowl safety, you’re probably one of the most gifted athletes that I’ve seen play the game of football." But he was very adamant. He said, "You can do things that I can’t do." And I said, "Well there’s a lot of things that you can do that I can’t do." He said, "Do what you can do really well and you’ll be fine." He was talking about hustling to the ball, making tackles and reading defenses, and it might not be the fancy stuff that Sean Taylor can do, knocking people out and making picks and making the flashy play, but it just spoke volumes that he sought me out to give me confidence going into that game, to say, "There’s some things that you can do that other people in this league can’t do, so do those things really well. Don’t worry about what everybody wants you to do. Do the things that you can do really well." That spoke volumes, even after we went down to Dallas and did not play well as a defense, and T.O. [Terrell Owens] burned us and I thought well, that was my shot at starting. Boom, they put me back in at Tampa, and he said, "Do the things that you do really well." We went down to Tampa that next week and played really well. That’s the stuff that I can distinctly remember, sitting in that meeting and him saying those things to me, and it’s like, "‘Dude, do you realize who you’re talking to and who you are?" I think he had a really good feel about how to bring the best out of other people.

CUTTING THE LUNCH LINE

CHRIS SAMUELS
REDSKINS TEAMMATE (2004-2007)

I remember we were actually in training camp the year he got drafted. You look at Sean, he was a first-round pick, I was a first-round pick, and you treat rookies bad. Me in particular, I never really fooled with rookies too much except for a little bit of jokes here and there. But some guys hazed them a little bit harder. I was blown one day because I was in the lunch line and this guy’s a rookie and he skips me in line. I was like, “Rook, what are you doing? What’s up with that?” He just kind of looked at me. I said, “You know what, I’m going to give you a pass.” But I was blown, like, this guy just skipped me. Not that I had a chip on my shoulder because I was a first-round pick, or anything like that. I was just like, "You’re a rookie and you’re skipping a veteran guy. That’s just wrong." I don’t think he knew any better. He came in with that Miami swag I guess, I don’t know.

TURNPIKE WORKOUT

T.J. HOLTEN
HIGH SCHOOL BEST FRIEND

 

The nights we would choose to go out, and I’m talking the University of Miami days, when they were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, we would go out and party, turn up and get drunk and come all the way home. On the ride home, Sean used to be like, “Alright cus, let’s work.” And I’m like, “Whoa, not tonight.” And he’d be like, “Yeah, let’s go.” He would pull over on the side of the road and run up and down the side of turnpike so he didn’t go to practice tomorrow drunk. This was at four in the morning. He’d put on his cleats and run up and down the hill of the turnpike. Fresh out of the club. It was a spur of the moment thing, like let’s put in some work. Some nights when he didn’t want to do that, we’d pull up to UM and he’d run in the sand pits. Imagine someone going out to the club, all these chains, roll his jeans up, take his shirt off, drunk off of Hennessy, throwing up, but he was going to get it in. He would not go to practice and not be first in line. I played football and I could have run with him, but instead I was the one counting him. I just watched him work harder than anybody. He had enough inside to make himself go, where I didn’t. I sat right there and could have been running up that hill with him just as hard and I didn’t. That just shows the type of person he was. He didn’t need anyone to tell him to work out. He knew what he wanted to be.

A FATHERLY INSTINCT

RALPH ORTEGA
GULLIVER PREP HIGH SCHOOL DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR (1997-2000)

I started at Gulliver the same time he did. Our first spring practice would have been May, 1999. You practice that whole month and then you play a spring game at the end of that period. When we played the spring game, [watching] Sean was like watching a movie. This was the same guy I was coaching for a month, I knew he was good, but all of a sudden he just played at a complete different level. It was like an epiphany, almost a surreal experience. It’s like a movie and all of a sudden they’re highlighting in slow motion or fast motion. When the lights turned on, he just had a whole different gear. I told Sean, when everybody afterwards was hanging around the football field, I said, “I’d like to talk to you for a few minutes before you leave.” I pulled him over and it was just Sean and me. I said, “Sean, I’m going to tell you something, I’ve seen some really, really good football players, and there are some guys that are just different.” I said, “You are different. You can do whatever you want, but there’s something about you, I don’t even know how to describe it.” The interesting thing was he got sheepish, humbled. He wasn’t puffed up. He got almost embarrassed. Some guys, you tell them how good they can be and they get cocky in the wrong way…But Sean didn’t just take everybody at face value. He had a little bit of a reservation. I call it a fatherly instinct, and you’d see it with his younger brother.

HE WAS A HOMETOWN GUY

LARRY COKER
MIAMI HEAD COACH (2001-2003)

He wasn’t heavily recruited. Not that many people recruited him – it was us and Clemson that I’m aware of. I recruited him heavily. I just felt like he was a great prospect – and he was. I think a lot of people didn’t want to recruit him because he was from a small school. Not great competition. It was one of those deals where he looked good, but hey, a lot of people look good against that kind of competition, I guess was the feeling among recruiters. He was a hometown guy, and I recruited that area, and I wanted to keep him at home. I didn’t think you wanted to pass on a guy like that in your hometown. If I had been from Notre Dame or some place, maybe not, but right there, I definitely wanted to recruit him. He wasn’t a great student at the time but it was one of those things where I just felt like he a great chance to be successful and to make it. Obviously he did. He and Frank Gore are probably my most prized recruits.

STEAK AND EGGS

CLINTON PORTIS
MIAMI TEAMMATE (2001) AND REDSKINS TEAMMATE (2004-2007)

Sean called me over to his house on the day after he had the DUI. He skipped out on coming to the facility. Coach Gibbs and everyone wanted to talk to him and Sean just didn’t feel like talking. I called to talk to Sean. I’m like, “Man, where y’all at? Everybody’s waiting on y’all to come to the field.” He was like, “I don’t want to come. I’ll deal with it tomorrow.” I’m like what? Deal with it tomorrow? He was like, “Yeah.” He said he wanted steak and eggs, so he came home and cooked steak and eggs. After practice I left the facility and went to the house, he had steak and eggs ready and we played the video games. He said he’ll deal with the media the next day and that’s what he did. We didn’t talk about it. We played the video game. It wasn’t anything to talk about. He said he didn’t want to talk about it. I was with him the night before anyway so he was done with it. That’s just the type of person Sean was.

THE NEXT TIME, HE ROCKED ME

LORENZO ALEXANDER
REDSKINS TEAMMATE (2006-2007)

 

I remember when I was a young guy, and I was playing on the scout team on the offensive line. We had a power play and I had to come around and block him. I came around and gave a pretty good block and sprung a play on him. He didn’t say too much. He said, “Alright,” pretty much to himself. Later on it came up again and I had to run the same thing. Next time he came down and rocked me. That type of competitive nature that he had every day was just who he was. He used to come out in September, blazing hot, in all sweats, and maybe run a mile before practice. When it was cold he’d do the same thing but be out there with barely nothing on. Things like that where, this dude is kind of crazy, but it all made sense once you saw him play on Sunday and how ferocious he was and mentally tough.

POST-PRACTICE DEEP BALLS

JASON CAMPBELL
REDSKINS TEAMMATE (2005-2007)

 

We would stay after practice. He would line up in the middle of the field at the safety position. I would play my quarterback position. I would drop back and take five steps and throw like I’m throwing a go route. I would look straight down the middle of the field so he couldn’t tell which side of the field I was throwing it to. When I would get ready to throw it he would take off. Before the ball would hit its landing spot, Sean would make it to the spot like he was going to intercept the ball. When we played in Green Bay in 2007, he intercepted [Brett] Favre a couple of times. It took me back to those drills we were doing after practice and how fast he could cover ground. When I saw him do that in the Green Bay game, I said, "This kid is unbelievable." It just reminded me of those drills after practice, he’d go from sideline to sideline trying to intercept the ball before it hits the ground and get two feet in before going out of bounds. He wanted to know what angles he needed to take. It always showed me how committed he was, being one of the best to ever play the position, working on his craft. His range of motion is so much different than a lot of safeties. He was strong, tall, physical, he was fast, and if you’re going to build a safety from head to toe, he’s the prime example of what you’re looking for.

LATE NIGHT VIDEO GAMES

FRED SMOOT
RREDSKINS TEAMMATE (2004-2007)

We used to play this motorcycle video game, where you had to race through these obstacle courses. We just get out of work and Sean said, “Alright, I’m going to come by the house and we’re going to play a video game.” And we literally played that video game for seven hours. He could not beat me and he would not leave my house until two or three in the morning before he beat me. He finally beat me around 2:30 or 2:45 in the morning. The games are not long, so you can only imagine how many games we sat there and played. You know me, I was like, "Hey man, I’m going to keep beating you, you ain’t never going home.” He was like, “Well, I ain’t ever going to go home then.” We’re joking and we’re competing with each other and losing track of time. Before you know it, after I keep winning and winning, he’s totally upset. We’re talking trash to each other. I was in a townhouse and I know my neighbors were probably losing their minds. We were so consumed with the game and who was winning and who was not, that we didn’t care what time it was. He wouldn’t even let me use the bathroom. And we got practice the next day, he don’t care. He didn’t sleep, he wanted to compete.

YOU READY TO HIT THE FIELD?

LONDON FLETCHER
REDSKINS TEAMMATE (2007)

We’re playing the Jets up in New York and the game went into overtime. Our offense was driving and Sean wanted to go back on the field. He was talking to me like, “You ready to go back on the field?” I was like, “No, the offense is about to win this game.” He wanted to keep playing. Most people would be like, "I hope our offense goes down and scores so this game will be over." He actually wanted to go out there and play some more football. That’s how much he loved playing football. That right there was just evident.

TYING UP THE LACES TIGHT

SHAWN SPRINGS
REDSKINS TEAMMATE (2004-2007)

We’re coming into the season and every team has their conditioning test, guys coming in, it was three days before camp. Everybody had to take this conditioning test and Sean took his conditioning test the day before. So the next day I come in to take my test and he’s in the weight room. He’d already been working out and stuff and I said, “I’m about to run my conditioning test, you crushed it yesterday I heard.” He said, “Yeah, man.” I said, “I’m going to crush it, too.” He said, “I’m going to come and run it with you.” I’m out there in my eighth, ninth year running pretty good. I’m a corner. Sean’s probably like 230 [pounds] and I’m like 200 [pounds]. So I run the first one and I blast him on the first one. I beat him by like five yards. He didn’t say nothing. You know how during a break you see someone tie their shoes up real tight? The next thing you know, he came out and blasted me by like double the amount I beat him. It was just to show you, the dude is so competitive. It didn’t matter he had already run his the day before. He just was so competitive, he was relentless.

HE'D NEVER LET YOU WIN

CHRIS COOLEY
REDSKINS TEAMMATE (2004-2007)

We came in together. Three years into us being here, he’s breaking up passes on scout team against our offense, covering me man-to-man. Why are you doing this? It was so frustrating because you just want to win. You just want it to be on script. He’d never let you win. It really changed the way I practiced, or the way I thought about practice. He was getting better every day and taking a million reps. He was doing it to get better, but he was doing it because he loved it. It changed the way I practiced for sure. I started at first making a joke, “I’m going to run 50 yards after every catch.” A lot of that was Sean and the impact of Sean, the way he went about the game and working in practice. The last thing I loved about it was he never hit me. He blew up a lot of dudes in practice. He said, “We’re boys, I need you out there.” I loved that because it made me feel like Sean thought I was a good player, that I would help the team. He didn’t want to hit me because he wanted me to be playing. It was pretty cool to have that happen early for me.

STEALING HIS INTERCEPTION

BRANDON MERIWEATHER
MIAMI TEAMMATE (2002-2003)

We were playing against Florida State. He had [two] interceptions that game. He was supposed to be a nickel on a certain play but he made me do it. He was like, “Look man, the ball is going to come right here, [quarterback Chris Rix] is going to look this way and throw the ball right here, I want you to get the interception.” So that’s why he put me down there. When the play actually happened, just like he said, he was jumping on top of me and [wide receiver] Chris Davis. I was so mad because I knew for sure that was going to be my second career interception against Florida State. I thought I had me one, and he just jumped on top of my head after he set me up. That was supposed to be my pick. We talked about it on the sideline for three or four series after that and on the bus on the way back home. He just laughed about it and was like, “Man you were going to drop it anyways.” It was all fun and games, that’s what safeties do. He was so smart, he was one of the first people who I actually saw with my own two eyes that was actually a student of the game. He knew so much more than what people thought he did. He was always in the right position at the right time.

THE ONE WHO CLOTHESLINES PEOPLE?

RYAN CLARK
REDSKINS TEAMMATE (2004-2005)

My wife had seen [Sean] play by this point, my first year. She didn’t live with me because I thought I was going to get cut like any day. So I was like, let’s save as much money as possible. She was coming to pick me up from practice one day and she’s sitting in the car. Sean walks by the car and he’s like, in his very quiet voice, big smile, eyes tight, he’s just like, “Hi, Mrs. Clark, nice to meet you,” and he walks off. I get to the car and she’s like, “Babe, who is that tall kid that came to the car?” “Well, that’s Sean Taylor.” She was like, “That quiet kid is Sean Taylor?” She was just amazed. She’s like, “Sean Taylor? The crazy one who clotheslines people?” I was like, “Yeah, that’s him.” That was the exact depiction of the two people he could be. He was quiet, he was sweet, he was thoughtful, and then when he put on the helmet, he was the dude that we got to see on Sundays. I just always enjoy that memory because I think with some of the things he went through off the field, and because of the way he played, people had this perception of him that was totally opposite of who he really was as a person. I always thought that story was cool, that my wife couldn’t believe that the dude that played the way he did could have that soft and quiet of a personality.

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