washingtonpost.com
NFL Insider

Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Columnist
Tuesday, November 27, 2007 11:00 AM

The Post's Mark Maske was online Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the death of Sean Taylor and the latest news from around the NFL.

A transcript follows.

Mark writes the NFL Insider blog, and is the author of the new book War Without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football's NFC East.

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Mark Maske: Hello, everyone. Obviously it is a very somber day and everyone will want to talk about Sean Taylor's death. I'll take as many questions as I can but I might have to break away here and there to take a phone call or two.

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Washington, D.C.: My thoughts and prayers are with Sean's family, the team and our city today. Will the team be offering the chance for fans to remember Sean in a memorial?

Mark Maske: I haven't heard any details but I would guess there will be something arranged.

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Fairfax, Va: Is it common for injured players to return home during their convalescence?

And does the NFL have a contingency plan for this sort of tragedy? Postponement of the upcoming game perhaps?

Just an unbelievable shock.

Mark Maske: I think it's common for injured players to not travel to a road game, to stay back and receive treatment. I wouldn't call it common for an injured player to go back to an out-of-town home.

The league handles things like this on a case-by-case basis. I'm waiting to hear if the game will be affected. My guess is that it will be played as scheduled, but that's not based on anything I've been told officially at this point.

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Arlington, Va.: I guess I'm confused. I went to bed last night with the assumption that he was awake and responsive. What happened? Was that false information?

Mark Maske: There were hopes at one point that he was improving. He did have some level of response to his doctors. But even then, I think, the optimism was guarded. At all times, even that time when there was some hope, it remained clear that this was a life-threatening wound and things still could turn out this way.

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Marysville, Wash. (Baghdad, Iraq): This is just too much too handle! What happens now? Would the NFL allow the Redskins to postpone this weekend's games or play the game with a black armband to show respect to a fallen teammate?

Mark Maske: I'm sure there will be some sort of recognition of this at the game. At this point, there hasn't been any indication one way or the other about whether the game might be rescheduled. I'm waiting to hear from the league. I was in contact with one person within the Redskins organization this morning who indicated he didn't know if a postponement would be considered.

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Reston, Va.: What is your favorite Sean Taylor moment? How will you remember him?

Mark Maske: I didn't cover him. I'd stopped covering the Redskins beat by the time he came into the league, so I didn't really have any personal interaction with him. I can only go by what his coaches and teammates said about him. He seemed to be well-liked and respected by them. Obviously he had some maturity issues when he first came into the league, and he had some legal problems off the field. But everyone who knows him seems unanimous in saying that he'd been changed, particularly by fatherhood. As a player, quite obviously he was unbelievably gifted and he'd begun to channel that talent properly to become one of the better defensive players in the league.

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Kensington, Md.: Was this an assassination or a robbery? This is a serious question -- given reports of a previous break-in, the fact that phone lines were cut, and nothing was apparently taken, have police been willing to discuss the possibility that Sean Taylor was deliberately targeted?

Mark Maske: It's very early in the police investigation. I don't think we know the answers to those questions yet. For now, all the police have said is that it looks to be a possible robbery. I'm sure other possibilities are being investigated as well, given the history here.

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Arlington, Va.: Sean Taylor was murdered. This should now be a criminal investigation. A break-in a week ago, cut phone lines; something isn't right here. Please tell me the police are investigating this as a murder. This has the markings of a hit of some kind.

Mark Maske: Yes, there are considerations here about past incidents. I'm sure that is not being overlooked by the police.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I don't understand why it has been said that the reason he didn't have to travel with the team was that the flight/air plane conditions would not be great for his knee, but, he has been up and back to Miami in the past two weeks -- how is that different then flying to Tampa?

Mark Maske: It doesn't appear that the team knew he was going to travel to Miami this past weekend.

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Norfolk, Va.: Despite all the post-mortem effort to portray Sean Taylor as a misunderstood young man who was trying to turn his life around when he was tragically killed in a robbery-gone-wrong, wouldn't the country be better served by telling the truth and using him as a case study of what can go wrong if you can't distance yourself from the criminal element?

This was no random accident. His past caught up with him.

Mark Maske: If that is what the story turns out to be, that story will be told. At this point, we just don't know.

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Players/Coaches Reactions: Have you heard any reactions from players or coaches? Are there any press conferences scheduled for today?

Mark Maske: Tuesday is usually a day off for the players and the coaches spend long hours behind closed doors putting together the game plan. I would think that would be different for the Redskins today.

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Bethesda, Md.: Why did The Post rely so much on Sharpstein as a valid source of information yesterday? He seemed to be doing nothing but needlessly speculating and giving mixed information (for example, as to the details of the crime and why it happened).

Mark Maske: He had first-hand information and he was willing to dispense it publicly. I don't see any problem with that. It was a changing situation. The hopes of the family for a recovery were raised at one point. The information that was put out wasn't wrong at the time.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I would encourage those fans who want to honor Sean Taylor to consider donating blood. Sean received many transfusions yesterday. While the blood was not enough to save him we should keep in mind that he would not have had a chance if kind and generous people had not donated that blood previously.

Mark Maske: It seems like a good suggestion to me.

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Baltimore: Is it strictly a league decision regarding whether to play this weekend's game with the Bills? Do the Redskins or Bills have any say? It certainly puts a visiting team in an awkward position.

Mark Maske: My understanding is that it's a league decision but I'm sure there will be input from the teams, particularly the Redskins.

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Atlanta: People here (in Atlanta) keep asking why this incident is so significant to Redskins fans and Washingtonians alike. How would you describe the connection that Redskins fans have to their players.

Mark Maske: The Redskins are followed here with great passion. This hits people so hard also because this is such a young, gifted person killed so suddenly and senselessly.

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D.C.: A while back I read that some players homes were being burglarized on Sundays while they were playing. Does the league give the players advise on how to stay secure in their homes? Do they offer help to players that have been victims of robberies, as Sean was recently?

Mark Maske: I'm sure that issue is discussed with players by security people from the league and the teams. You are talking here about wealthy people who are in the public eye, and whose absences from their homes on a weekly basis are well-known.

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San Francisco: I don't have a question but rather a comment: the passing of Sean Taylor is a quintessential tragedy. It is the story of a once reckless immature kid who was taken from us just as he matured into a responsible adult, a loving father and finance and person of character. Along the way, he became the best safety in football, leading the NFL in interceptions. I post this comment as part of the grieving process and to extend my thoughts and prayers to the Taylor family and his lovely finance. God bless you Sean.

Mark Maske: I'll just post that to pass along your thoughts to everyone.

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Rockville, Md.: Mark,

What is the reaction of the rest of the league to this. I am surprised not to have heard anything from the commissioner or anyone else at this point.

Mark Maske: That will be coming soon, I'm sure.

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Arlington, Va.: Mark -- What was your opinion of Taylor off-the-field?

Mark Maske: As I said before, I don't know that I had one. I didn't have close interaction with him. Few in my business did. For the most part, we can only go by what those who did know him well said, and they described him as a person who seemed to be getting his life together and dedicating himself to his profession.

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Dallas (Feel sorry for me as a huge 'Skins fan): Obvious question...This is the NFL, it's a business and the show is going to have to go on. What would you anticipate the team's schedule will be this week and will they be able to be competitive Sunday and win one for Sean?

Mark Maske: I don't know what the Redskins' schedule will be. Normally the players would be off today and then the tough practices for the week would come Wednesday and Thursday, with a lighter one Friday and then a walk-through Saturday morning. The hard practices for the week could be pushed back until later in the week. The Redskins seem to be just taking things hour by hour, so I'm not sure they even know yet how they're going to handle the rest of the week.

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Fort Washington, Md.: Pro athletes in just about every sport all over the world are targets for random violence and robberies. What, if anything, is the NFL doing to lessen this problem? They warn athletes about going to clubs but as this case and many others indicate criminals will find a way to find get these athletes.

Mark Maske: In the NFL, the players are briefed every year by the league's security personnel. If there are any specific threats, the league does what it can to help and works with law enforcement. Beyond that, I would say a player's safety is mostly up to him.

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Chicago: Mark, How does a tragedy like this affect the beat reporters? They are there everyday covering this team. Even with Taylor not speaking the media this must make it very hard on the reporters, especially considering that they have to continue to work while everyone around them is grieving.

Mark Maske: It's part of the job. Not a particularly pleasant part, but still part of it. You just act as professionally as you can and realize that the people you're dealing with are going through a difficult, emotional time.

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Miami: As a huge Redskins and UM fan, I followed Sean's career from its beginning. It sounds weird to say, having only met him once for just a minute, but I feel a tremendous loss with his passing.

He was an awesome football player. Players of his caliber are rare. His death is a devastating shock, as well as a sad statement concerning the violence rampant in portions of our society.

I don't know if others agree, but Sean played with such reckless abandon that I always thought in the back of my mind that any play could be his last. But I never thought his career could end this tragically.

May he rest in peace.

Mark Maske: It is shocking to everyone to see such a young, strong person struck down, no doubt.

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Alexandria, Va.: I think the NFL should tell the Sean Taylor story at next year's rookie symposium. Maybe the next Sean Taylor will be able to avoid his mistakes.

Of course, the next Sean Taylor will probably skip the meeting like he did. Right from the start, Sean Taylor was on a collision course with trouble.

Mark Maske: I'm sure this story will be told to young players entering the league for years to come, no matter what the circumstances of the shooting turn out to be.

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Mark Maske: I've got to run, everyone, and take a few calls. Thanks for the questions and see you here next week.

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