By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The business of playing football will go on for the Washington Redskins even as those in the organization mourn the death of safety Sean Taylor. NFL officials said yesterday that they expect the Redskins' game against the Buffalo Bills to be played as scheduled Sunday at FedEx Field.
"I have not heard any discussion of changes to the schedule," Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of public relations, said by telephone from New York.
A Redskins official said earlier in the day he also expected the game to be played as scheduled.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Taylor would be honored at every game played throughout the league this week.
"The entire NFL is deeply saddened by the death of Sean Taylor," Goodell said in a written statement released by the league. "We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Sean's family, friends, teammates and the Redskins organization. This is a terrible tragedy involving the loss of a young man who leaves behind many people struggling to understand it. Our office is staying in close contact with the Redskins to provide all appropriate support to the club and Sean's family. We also are working to determine the facts surrounding this tragic event. We will honor the memory of Sean Taylor at all games this weekend."
The Redskins are scheduled to play two games in five days beginning Sunday. They will host the Chicago Bears in a Thursday night game next week. So it would be difficult for league and team officials to postpone the game, even under such trying circumstances.
Rescheduling an NFL game is rare but not unprecedented. The league played its games two days after the assassination of president John F. Kennedy in 1963, a decision commissioner Pete Rozelle reportedly came to regret. Then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue postponed the slate of games the weekend after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Those games were rescheduled for the week after the original end of the regular season and the Super Bowl was played a week later than scheduled.
Other games have been postponed or relocated because of disasters such as hurricanes; the league considered rescheduling or moving a game late last month between the Houston Texans and San Diego Chargers because of wildfires in San Diego County. But the game was played as scheduled in San Diego after the mayor gave his approval.
It wasn't immediately clear how the Redskins' schedule of preparations for this weekend's game will be affected. The NFL Players Association, in addition to the league, pledged its support.
The union issued a written statement that said: "The NFL Players Association is in deep mourning after the loss of one of our own, Redskins safety Sean Taylor. . . . We were all shocked and saddened to hear of this horrific tragedy. Our prayers and thoughts go out to the Taylor family, his friends and his teammates."