A Fan’s Lament
The football bounced free on the field. Fumble. Out of nowhere, Sean Taylor raced into the television screen and scooped up the ball. He ran 39 yards down the sidelines and launched himself into the end zone with his arms extended and his body parallel to the ground.
He was Superman.
He was murdered early this morning. Assassinated. Taken away from all of us because someone decided Taylor must die. And so it happened.
Regardless of his past, of the gangster elements in his life, of how he was probably fated for such an ending, Taylor’s death has left many of us sick and sobbing.
We miss him already.
We loved him dearly.
We don’t know him as a person. Others have said how much he adored his little daughter, how he was very smart and how people followed him because he was genuine. Taylor was just 24.
We only knew him as a player. His nickname was “Meast” for half man, half beast. No. 21 was someone who could knock the wind out of you with a stare. He was the Washington Redskins best player. A bully. Our bully. The guy we wanted beside us when the talking is done and there’s no other recourse.
They called him “Grim Reaper” because he put fear into opposing receivers crossing the middle. “Did you get the license plate of that man?” was a favorite saying of analyst Sonny Jurgensen when Taylor leveled another opponent.
Terrell Owens was scared of him. Randy Moss would run out of bounds. Countless others, professionals, men who if they walked into the room would make other men look to the ground, these guys bowed to Mr. Taylor.
He was a beautiful player—6-foot-2 and 220 pounds of raw athlete. He covered ground like no other player, had a knack of being around the ball and making a key play. Remember the playoff game in Tampa Bay two seasons ago?
Taylor was just beginning to reach his potential and it was wonderful to watch. The Redskins drafted LaRon Landry to free Taylor to roam the field and go after the ball, or anyone who entered his territory. He responded with a conference-leading five interceptions.
No. 30 Landry and No. 21 Taylor were known as Area 51. It was a pairing that should have lasted 10 years.
They say sports are insignificant when tragedy like this one happens. Life, or death, is bigger than the game. They say it feels wrong to think about how Taylor’s death will impact the team. But it’s OK. Football is our connection to Sean Taylor. It’s how we know him. How we grew to love him and root for him to overcome his troubles.
We spent almost every fall and winter Sunday for the past four years with him. He gave us so much joy. He hurt like we did after each defeat. That’s why his death feels so wrong.
We wonder when he flew through the air during the waning minutes of the Philadelphia Eagles game on New Year’s Day 2006, was there a silence? A stillness? A serenity that overcame him? Because at that very moment, he joined thousands of hearts and breaths. We were all one. And that kind of unity should bring a peaceful feeling.
We only can hope his death, which has brought many of us together again, can bring him the same free, soaring feeling he experienced in that brief moment as Superman.