The Spurrier Effect

Thomas Boswell
Sunday, April 25, 2004

Now, at last, the Redskins have learned what Steve Spurrier's legacy was: Sean Taylor.

The ex-University of Florida guru may have been a dud as an NFL coach, but he inadvertently got the Redskins a young free safety from the University of Miami who will probably be a Washington star for a decade.

By taking an extremely expensive team with considerable talent and coaching it to a miserable 5-11 record last season, Spurrier accidentally guided the Redskins to the No. 5 overall pick yesterday in a strong NFL draft. With that choice, the Redskins took Taylor, a 231-pound speedster with the kind of ball-hawking skills and soft hands usually associated with a wide receiver. No team with all the gaudy tools owner Daniel Snyder provided Spurrier should ever get such a snazzy pick. But, sometimes, pro football works in mysterious ways.

Despite his two wasted seasons, Spurrier may ultimately be remembered as a Redskins benefactor. If he hadn't been so frustrated by his NFL failures that he quit suddenly, then the Redskins would not have been in position to chase Joe Gibbs at the very moment when he was considering coming out of retirement. Instead, Gibbs might have ended up coaching the Atlanta Falcons, and Michael Vick, next season.

Instead, Gibbs is now beaming over adding Taylor, a somewhat unconventional pick that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams says "speaks volumes about Joe Gibbs and about his team concept."

By the time the Redskins were on the draft clock yesterday, the whole sport knew Washington's choice was between Taylor and his Miami teammate Kellen Winslow Jr., who is not only the son of a Hall of Famer but, in his own right, is a gifted 243-pound tight end. Break tackles? Sure, Winslow can do that, unless he sometimes decides simply to hurdle entirely over defenders.

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