By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Pedro Taylor, the father of slain Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, expressed his joy at the team's unexpected surge to the playoffs yesterday, and said he will continue to watch every game and root for the club.
Taylor's motivational address to the team at Redskins Park a day after his son's death continues to be a source of inspiration for the organization, and was a topic of conversation in the locker room after Sunday's 27-6 victory over Dallas that clinched a playoff spot.
"It's outstanding," Taylor said during a phone interview yesterday, sharing his excitement that the team made the playoffs after being 5-6 at the time Sean Taylor was shot in his Miami area home. "It's awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome! They have a great organization and great coaches and hard-working players and [owner] Mr. [Daniel] Snyder has done a great job with everyone there and Coach [Joe] Gibbs and Coach [Gregg] Williams have rallied the team. I'm very happy for them."
When speaking to the team on Nov. 28, Taylor, the chief of police in Florida City, Fla., urged the Redskins to play with the heart and determination his son showed and to try to win their remaining games. The Redskins lost their next game to Buffalo, then defeated Chicago three days after attending the funeral in Miami. They have won four in a row overall and face Seattle in a first-round playoff game Saturday.
Taylor deflected any credit for the team's play away from himself, though the appearance of the Taylor family here was clearly an important moment.
"It's all about believing," said Taylor, calling himself a die-hard Redskins fan. "It wasn't me, it's the character of the team and the players believing in what they could accomplish. I'm not sure I did anything at all. It just comes down to the character of those guys."
Taylor said his family was coping with the tragedy "one day at a time," and offered his thanks to fans and well-wishers who have shared prayers with his family, and donated to the fund established for Sean Taylor's daughter, Jackie. "Her education is the most important thing to us," Taylor said.
Gibbs said he has not had a chance to speak with Taylor recently, but tailback Clinton Portis, a college teammate of Sean Taylor's at Miami, spoke with Pedro Taylor and Jackie Garcia, Taylor's girlfriend, yesterday morning.
They said " 'Happy New Year, congratulations,' " on making the playoffs, Portis said. "They enjoy what we're doing here, keeping Sean in our thoughts and prayers."