By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 4, 2005
Miami-Dade County police are looking to speak with Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor as a "person of interest" in a case involving a stolen car and shots being fired Wednesday night, a police spokeswoman said yesterday.
Taylor, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft, and a friend were at the scene of a crime and Taylor is one of several people police are seeking to contact regarding the incident, according to Cathy Webb, a public information officer for the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Webb said police are still investigating the crime and have no information as to what Taylor's role, if any, was in the matter. It was unclear who owned the stolen car and why Taylor was there. Webb said shots were fired into the vehicle.
As of late last night, police said they had not spoken directly to Taylor but had contacted his family and league officials in attempts to reach him.
The Redskins did not respond to requests seeking comment on the matter.
Taylor's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, did not return several telephone messages asking for comment.
Taylor, 22, who attended the University of Miami, has spent the offseason in South Florida, drawing the ire of Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs because he has failed to report to Redskins Park for voluntary workouts and practices.
Taylor has not returned calls from Gibbs and his staff during the offseason, and the team as of yesterday had not received assurances that the second-year defensive back would attend a mandatory minicamp June 17-19. Rosenhaus has repeatedly declined to comment on Taylor's absence from Redskins Park.
Taylor's father, Pedro, the chief of police in Florida City, Fla., declined to comment on Wednesday's incident when reached by telephone at his office. He instructed a reporter to call Taylor's mother, Donna Junor.
Junor, when contacted at her home, said she had no specifics about the incident but believed Taylor was not injured.
"They said he's okay, but I haven't spoken to him," Junor said. "I don't know where he is, but I've heard all kinds of things. I don't want to speculate, so there's nothing I can really say."
A woman at the same telephone number identifying herself as Taylor's great-grandmother said Taylor ate dinner at their home Wednesday night before going out. She, too, said she has not heard from Taylor.
Taylor was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated last October and was suspended for one game by the team. The charges were dismissed in January.
Taylor twice changed agents last year before returning to Rosenhaus after being unhappy with the six-year contract, worth a maximum of $40 million, he had signed under his previous agent.
Taylor was fined $25,000 by the league after leaving its mandatory rookie symposium without permission, and a member of the Cincinnati Bengals accused Taylor of spitting on him during a game last season, although the NFL could not find evidence of the claim after investigating it.
Taylor had a successful rookie season on the field, however. He began the season as a reserve but emerged as the starting free safety in the third game and held the role for the duration of the season, starting 13 games in all. He was second on the team with four interceptions, had one sack and displayed a propensity for big plays.
But he also hurt the team with his lack of discipline by picking up costly penalties and being caught out of position. The coaches hoped he would hone his technique and mental approach during the offseason, but Taylor has not been seen at Redskins Park since the team departed in January.
Gibbs said the Redskins performed an exhaustive background check on Taylor before selecting him with their first round pick last year and, at the time, called the selection one of the "most researched things in the history of sports."