WASHINGTON — Even though he was born on April Fools’ Day, 1983, Sean Taylor’s life and enduring legacy is no joking matter. The former Redskins safety is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes to ever take the field in Washington, and a dying breed of football gladiators.
Taylor played just four seasons in the NFL, but he piled up 299 total tackles, 12 interceptions and eight forced fumbles. He made the Pro Bowl in 2006 and 2007 and was a member of the AP All-NFL Second Team in 2007.
By the age of 24, he had already earned his place in Redskins lore and was an inspiration and idol to the current crop of NFL royalty. He was soft-spoken in interviews, but let his play do the talking on the field, flaunting a rare combination of speed, instincts and unchained physicality.
Nearly ten years after his death, there is little question that Taylor could have been one of the greatest to play the game, even with the rule changes that would have limited his star power. On the day that would have been his 34th birthday, here is a look back at some of the memories he left behind:
London Fletcher on Taylor’s ability:
“I only got to play I think 7 or 8 games with Sean, but you could tell,” Fletcher said. “You saw his instincts and his talent on the football field. I’m looking at this guy like, ‘Man, this guy, he’s going to be a Hall of Fame football player.’
“So, Sean goes into that list with your Isaac Bruces and your Aeneas Williams and Marshall Faulk as far as some of the best-talented football players that I’ve ever played with.”
Reed Doughty on replacing Taylor:
“And as far as replacing him, you know, the week before he passed, he had been hurt,” he said.
“And we were about to play Tampa, and I had been benched the week before from the Dallas game, and Sean Taylor told me, he said, ‘Reed, there are things you can do that I can’t do.’ And I looked at him, my jaw dropped, I’m like, ‘You’ve got to be joking.’
“He’s like, ‘Everybody has their skills,’ he said, ‘you have yours, use them.’ So, for me, it wasn’t about replacing Sean, it wasn’t about trying to do what he did, it was being the best I could be to help the team win. That was going to be a different role than Sean played.”
There will never be another Sean Taylor. Even if a player possessed his once-in-a-lifetime skill set, he would not permitted to use it to the ability that Taylor could. He was a force that could never be duplicated.
But through the legacy he left behind, Taylor has inspired countless young defenders to pursue football with his passion. Young phenom Su’a Cravens, who is utilizing his own unique skill set, has already attributed his inspiration to Taylor: