The past few days have been unlike anything I've ever experienced. Over the years I have endured the loss of three grandparents as they struggled against the diseases of old age. In high school a favorite teacher of mine was tragically taken from us far too soon. All of the experience were uniquely painful and this is no different, but of course I never knew Sean Taylor.
Sean was my favorite player, mostly not reasons that are difficult to articulate. His insistences to jump routes, go for the knockout instead wrapping up, and lateral any ball that he was unable to advance used to frustrate the shit out of me. Over time I came to not only accept, but embrace these tendencies as I began to realize that they are symptoms of what I loved so much about the player. He would do absolutely anything to make the biggest impact possible. Sean played the game one way, with balls firmly affixed to the proverbial wall.
Yet most people still don't seem to understand the outpouring of emotion for a young man who managed to remain somewhat of an unknown. On his local radio show former Redskin great John Riggins expressed the sadness he felt for Sean as well as his friends and family, but he was genuinely surprised by the visceral reactions amongst his fans. On the surface his reasoning made sense.
Sean was obviously loved by the fans for his abilities on the field, but off of it he was hardly a larger than life personality. It was always hard to get a firm read on Sean, especially because he rarely spoke to the media. Yet that rare quality actually helped to endear the star player to local fans. Washington will never be confused with the happiest places in the country. It is the city of the disenfranchised and the seemingly disenchanted athlete evoked respect amongst its people. That's why his number 21 is the most popular Redskins jersey, surpassing even the league's pre-eminent entertainer in Clinton Portis. Sean Taylor was loved in Washington because he spoke softly and carried a big stick.
For those planning to attend tomorrow's game/memorial service I strongly urge you to wear either Sean's jersey or something black. This is not the time for face paint or even the most somber of pig snouts. Tomorrow is a day to pay our respects to our hero. Although I'd have no objection if the DTC wanted to pour a bottle of Crown Royal onto the asphalt.
After another shitty stadium experience at the beginning of the season I said I was done with FedEx Field...of course this is has to be an exception. I've been hard on Mr. Snyder and Coach Gibbs for most of the season but they have both handled the situation as well or better than could be expected from anyone in their positions. anything that can humble Snyder to the point of genuine humanity and expressive emotion is surely strong enough to bring me back to Raljon. So I'll be there along with 92,000 mourners (although a handful of them are bound to be drunken off-season racists).
Sean is gone but he will most assuredly not be forgotten by a generation of fans. The number 21 will live forever in Redskins lore. It can take the form of jerseys, shirts, stickers, and perhaps the occasional car magnet, but we can do so much more. We must take our memory of Taylor to the streets, give him the Borf treatment if you will. With that in mind, I propose that we convert all of the District's stop signs from boring octagons into beautiful tributes...
...by any means necessary.