By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Former Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, killed last month by intruders in his Miami area home, was elected as a starter for the Pro Bowl, and left tackle Chris Samuels and tight end Chris Cooley also were voted to the NFC squad as reserves, the league announced yesterday.
In being selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, Taylor received the most votes among NFC free safeties in balloting by coaches, players and fans. At the time of his death, Taylor, who was 24, was leading the league with five interceptions. In nine games, he had 42 tackles, including 32 solo tackles, and one forced fumble.
Statistics, however, only told part of the story of Taylor's improvement from his first three seasons and his positive impact on the Redskins' defense this season. Starting with his rookie season in 2004, Taylor quickly established a well-deserved reputation as one of the biggest hitters in the game. But he also gave up some big plays.
This season, however, Taylor was the anchor of the Redskins' base cover-2 defense. Opponents were reluctant to challenge the Redskins with deep passes because of Taylor's presence at the back of the zone coverage.
Said Richard Sharpstein, a family friend and Taylor's former lawyer, "It's a fitting honor and I know Sean's family is proud, but it's also very sad."
Taylor is believed to be only the second person elected posthumously to an all-star game in a major American sports league, according to research by the Associated Press. Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Pelle Lindbergh was voted by fans to start the 1986 NHL All-Star Game after he was killed in an automobile accident on Nov. 11, 1985.
The NFL will determine what do to with Taylor's Pro Bowl roster spot, and the league is expected to honor Taylor during the game, a Redskins spokesman said.
Samuels also was elected to the Pro Bowl in 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006. He has been a steadying force on a makeshift offensive line that has been beset by injuries.
Cooley was voted to his first Pro Bowl. He leads the Redskins with 60 receptions for 711 yards and seven touchdowns.
Full list, E7.