This is the reason why Sean Taylor's death, for me, is all the more heartbreaking. Too often, many of us (especially me) invest so much into our teams and the players in particular that we forget they are flawed human beings just like the rest of us, and that despite their million dollar salaries, they make mistakes just the same. Even though I no longer expect the world from these guys, the connection is still there because I know that for all their talent and physical gifts, they are in many ways not that different from me.
Sean Taylor perhaps more than any other Redskin epitomized these human flaws. He had several brushes with the law including assault and drunk driving. However, in the last two years he had begun to turn his life around. Joe Gibbs and Greg Williams noticed a marked difference in Taylor's professionalism and approach to the game. The birth of his daughter in 2006 no doubt played a huge role in Taylor's maturation. Do not discount the Gibbs factor either on Taylor's change. Gibbs is a player's coach and his players will go through the fire for him, and Taylor's stellar play this year is sign of Gibbs' influence. We love the man and this is why it is hard for folks to criticize St. Joe.
Taylor, despite his run-ins with the law, by any count was a good person. Although he distrusted the media and rarely talked to them, his teammates and coaches all saw, and talked about the good person he was. In eerily prescient column Mike Wise of The Washington Post, tried to pierce the veil of mystery surrounding Taylor.
Gregg Williams, the Redskins' defensive boss, says there is one key to
knowing Taylor. "More than anything, it's trust," he said. "He has to trust you. He can look you in the eye and know whether you're being a con."
Williams says the maturity and development of Taylor was the result "a lot of tough love behind the scenes you didn't see."
"I love him," he said. "I think he's one of the most passionate football players I've ever coached. But he's very guarded. He's so at peace with who he is, he really doesn't care that [you] don't know him. It doesn't bother him."
Portis feels the same way. "I love him as a person and a teammate, I think what he stands for is perfect. He added that Taylor's infant daughter has changed him. "You gotta grow up all of a sudden," Portis said. "It's not you, you, you, you. Now you got to sacrifice you all the time for her, her, her. When you have something so precious and so innocent in your life like that, it gives you a special meaning for what matters."
Lessons learned. Perspective. Unbridled joy. All the things Sean Taylor has apparently experienced but failed to reveal. Until he decides to speak for himself, that will have to be good enough.
Sean Taylor's story had all the makings of a classic "turn your life around" tale. Sadly, we will never have the honor of Sean telling us himself.