Redskins to put Sean Taylor's locker on display at FedEx Field

By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 17, 2010

Two and a half years after Sean Taylor's death, the locker room memorial for one of the Redskins' most beloved players is being removed from Redskins Park. The locker will reappear before the start of the season at FedEx Field, situated in the club level and open for public viewing.

The locker had been mostly untouched since Taylor's death on Nov. 27, 2007, but it is no longer present in the locker room. In its place, wood paneling temporarily covers the empty space. A new locker is expected to be installed soon and a new player will occupy Taylor's old place in the locker room.

The decision to move the locker was surely a difficult one for the team's new leaders. On the one hand, everyone in the organization is eager to begin a new chapter and start anew after a couple of frustrating seasons. On the other, Taylor's death rocked the franchise -- from players to fans -- and his preserved locker was a very visible way for the team to honor his memory.

"We wanted to respect Sean's memory and find an appropriate place to display the locker he used every day at Redskins Park," General Manager Bruce Allen said in a statement provided to The Post. "We know how much Sean meant and still means to our fans and we are happy to be able to share this with them."

At some point between the team's April 24 draft party and the start of the season, the locker will be moved to the Club A tower of FedEx Field. Only club-level ticketholders will be able to view the locker on game days, but team officials say fans will be able to visit the locker during other events and during stadium tours.

It appears no decision has been made about what to do with Taylor's locker at FedEx Field, which had been similarly preserved.

The locker, located near the entrance to the locker room, was sandwiched between those of Santana Moss and Clinton Portis, teammates and friends who also attended the University of Miami. Because the team's minicamp, which began Friday, is closed to media, neither was available for interviews. But both players released statements to The Post supporting the organization's decision.

"I think the true fans, the people who've really been down with the Redskins from Day 1, win, lose or draw -- I think they'll have a great appreciation," Portis said. "I think it's really gonna hit home with a lot of 'em. I think it's gonna bring tears to a lot of eyes for the people who really can appreciate the work that Sean put in. That people have an opportunity to share and continue to be a part of his legacy . . . it's gonna be great."

Said Moss, whose career at Miami missed Taylor's by a year: "I think of the years that have passed since his death, you almost have that closure now, knowing that he's never gonna be forgotten, and knowing that every time we step out on that field, we're still gonna have him with us."

Just days after Taylor died of gunshot wounds suffered in a home invasion, the locker was encased in Plexiglass, freezing in time Taylor's burgundy and gold cubbyhole with his clothes, jersey and helmet still hanging within. His stool was placed inside, and cleats were ready to go. Up top, his shoulder pads sat upside down, alongside a framed photograph of Taylor and his daughter, Jackie. There was also a laminated item from Muscle & Fitness magazine, which cited Taylor as the game's strongest safety.

For the past two seasons, another daily reminder of Taylor could be found in the parking lot. Taylor was the team's defensive MVP on Sept. 17, 2007, which earned him a reserved parking space near the entrance at Redskins Park. The team left up that sign, reserving his space until recently.

"He's one of those guys that, with the little time that he did share here, I think you have a lot of memories of his excellence and knowing what could've been if he was still here, man, it just hurts your mind to even think," said Moss. "It's great that they're honoring him in this way, and it's great that they're still paying their respects even after all these years."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company