Remembering Sean Taylor

Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 26, 2008 1:00 PM

One year after the death of Redskins safety Sean Taylor, Washington Post staff writer Jason La Canfora was online Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 1 p.m. ET to take your questions about Taylor and how his memory affects and motivates his teammates.

The transcript follows.

Full coverage: Remembering Sean Taylor.


Jason La Canfora: Hello everyone. Very sad day for sure. Seems crazy that a year has passed. I hope everyone is having a good Thanksgiving week, otherwise.


Troy, N.Y.: What is the state of the criminal trials of those accused of the murder?

Jason La Canfora: There was a continuance from the orginal date this summer, and it is now slated for the spring. But from what I have heard it is not uncommon for two years to pass on a trial such as this, given the number of defendants and the nature of the crime. I would not be surprised if it was not delayed once or twice more to allow for more time for discovery, etc.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Jason,

Do you think they'll do the missing man formation (10 men on the field rather than 11) again this year like they did last year? Thanks.

Jason La Canfora: I haven't asked anyone and if you made me guess I would say they would not go with 10 men. Either way, it's best as a surprise, don't you think? Something that happens the night before the game or in the moment?

I'll be counting the players Sunday to be sure.


Louisville, Ky.: Does Florida have the death penalty?

Jason La Canfora: Yes indeed, but it was essentially waived in this case for the first defendant who took a deal to testify against the others.

By all accounts the slaying was not premeditated, but these kids are generally facing life in prison. It's a tragedy on every level.


Sarasota, Fla.: This story is both sad and maddening. Wasn't Sean Taylor's father a chief of police? Didn't anyone ever tell him giving people sacks with $10,000 cash was not a smart thing to do? How does one get $100,000 in cash, anyway? Did anyone even try to get him to act more responsibly? At least his daughter should be set for life, but she doesn't have her father. It really does read like Shakespeare. Too bad.

Jason La Canfora: Sean's father Pedro was indeed the chief of police in Florda City, Florida.

I'm sure there are things that Sean would want to do differently if given that opportunity - as we all would - for sure.


Chantilly, Va.: Wasup Jason, Helluva read in the Post. Last week I read on ESPN how so many players lives were affected by ST21's loss. For some reason losing him hit me like he was a family member. A young man trying to do good for his family gets shot up by a family member acquaintance... Terrible way to end it and all he was doing was protecting his family. He will Always be remembered

Jason La Canfora: Thanks. Many, many fans have expressed similar sentiments over the past year. It certainly touched people in a profound way.


Fairfax, Va.: Hey Jason, love your insider entries and your chats you do here week after week!

Could you please pass on a comment/question to Mr. Blache? Thinking back to the tragic loss of an awesome, awesome, talented young man, the first thing to pop in my head was the way Gregg Williams started their next game after Sean's death. He started only 10 guys on defense. When I saw that, it sent goose bumps all over my body! It was very touching and, in my opinion, an excellent tribute to a guy who seemed to LOVE playing football. Would Greg Blache do that again this Sunday? Could this be an annual tribute to Sean?

Jason La Canfora: Man, we just got finished talking to Blache. I wish I would have done so before this started. I'll look into this during the week. My sense is that was a very emotional, heartfelt, natural way to honor him that was in that moment, and would not duplicated, but again, that's just me talking/typing out loud.

Thanks so much for your readership and support.


Fairfax, Va.: Hey Jason, any time table for the Sean Taylor tribute before the game/at halftime?

University of Miami, '06

Jason La Canfora: I have heard 12:30 is when it will begin.


Lorton, Va.: Do you know of any televised tributes or specials that will be airing tonight or tomorrow in remembrance of Sean?

Jason La Canfora: I know that Comcast SportsNet has a lot of stories/features planned for Sundays pre-game show. I would definitely recommend checking it out or Tivo-ing it.


21 Love : Who in the game today is the closest to what Sean Taylor represented at the safety position? My first thoughts are Ed Reed and LaRon? What do you think Jasno?

Jason La Canfora: To me Ed Reed was always the natural comparison because of the way that freakish talent translated into big plays/seminal moments.

LaRon is not there yet, but over time I think we will see him deliver those game-changing moments, too.


Annandale, Va.: Are the Skins planning on wearing any kind of patch on their uniforms Sunday to commemorate the occasion?

All-burgundy again?

Jason La Canfora: As for the patches, it's a one year thing and there are lots of hoops to jump through with the league even to be able to do that.

Not sure on the uniforms.


Leesburg, Va.: Does getting inducted into the Ring of Fame at FedEx Field mean that Taylor's number will be retired? If not, do you think it will be at some point? Thanks

Jason La Canfora: I would be stunned if the number is not retired at some point, but this ceremony is not for that. It's a different honor.

The only number officially retired by the Skins is Sammy Baugh's, but there are a bunch of numbers essentially not issued. I would think/hope that No. 21 gets the Sammy Baugh treatment.


Suitland, Md.: After having buried a son 2 years prior at age 24, it was heart-wrenching to hear of Sean's death. We as parents can instill in our children the good, the bad and the ugly of the world but we are not in control of it. It made no difference that Sean gave $10k as a gift or kept money in his home. What's right is right and what's wrong is wrong. You can only hope that we all choose to make the right decisions and learn from our mistakes when we don't. Final thought, no one has a right to take what is not his, regardless!

Jason La Canfora: I am so sorry for your loss. I can not fathom what you went through, and my heart goes out to you.

Your sentiment stands for itself. Thanks for sharing with us.


K Street: Hi Jason, unfortunately I won't be able to go to this Sunday's game but really want to see the pre-game tribute. Do you know if FOX or CSN will be broadcasting that? Thanks!

Jason La Canfora: If anything FOX might -- since they are televising the game -- but if I recall correctly they did not air the ceremony last year during the game with Buffalo.


Washington, D.C.: Can I just take this opportunity to mention your coverage at that time? I was reminded of your writing style, your sensitivity, and your approach just yesterday when you wrote "I'll step aside..." I just want you to know that a lot of us, I'll speak for myself and many others, felt connected to the experience of that tragedy through your writing and updates. You never passed judgment on anyone, you demonstrated empathy and compassion, while still reporting the facts. I remember there was one report you specifically held back until you could independently confirm. I am sure it is an understatement that you'd rather not had to cover such events...but you were the right person for the job.

Jason La Canfora: That's is very cool of you to say and I'm touched that you would take the time to do it.

I tried to follow my instincts as a human being first, and then as a reporter, and always treat that story with the sensitivity it warranted. There's no real template for it and I'd never covered something like that before, and hope I did Sean and the reader justice.

All thanks to you.


Baltimore: As a writer, don't you think the media was way to quick to judge what happened in the whole murder incident. Colin Cowherd and Wilbon were QUICK to judge/write articles that it had to do with his past when it really did not. What are your thoughts?

Jason La Canfora: I remember listening to Cowherd -- who I find to be an insufferable blowhard know-nothing for the most part -- the morning after Sean was shot and thinking that he needed to be punched in the face.

Mike Wilbon has been accountable and upfront for everything he has done in his career and his journalism speaks for itself. He deserves legendary status and even if you didn't agree with everything he wrote, he stood behind, explained it and followed up on.

Some of the talk radio himbos just seem to skate and say whatever they please, regardless of fact or reality. Okay, let me get to another question before I get too hot.


Suitland, Md.: I read that there was a youth football tournament held in Miami and renamed in Sean Taylor's honor. Have you heard of any such plans for the D.C. area?

Jason La Canfora: Not that I have heard, but it would be a great idea, eh?


Washington, D.C.: Jason, and the Suitland, Md. chatter:

To the parent who lost their child, I really feel your pain. And having lost someone just before Sean left us, I know that time had to have been especially awful and a terrible reminder of your personal pain.

Jason, you're high class, all the way.

Jason La Canfora: Thank you.


Alexandria, Va.: A friend of mine told me to "get over it." You know what, I'm not over and I don't wanna be over it. I'm so glad we had Sean for at least the 4-5 years that we did. The guy was an absolute beast, and he was all ours. Like Blatche said, he was basically snatched away from us. And the way in which he died and every single detail/circumstance regarding the whole case makes it very difficult to find any closure. Sorry I'm just ranting.

No. 21, you will never ever be forgotten.

Jason La Canfora: Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Jason

What was your favorite Sean Taylor play? Mine was in the Dallas game in '05 when he POUNDED Patrick Crayton on 4th down and jarred the ball loose. We can all mourn for Sean, but I prefer to celebrate what a unique talent he was! FOREVER 21!!!!

Jason La Canfora: I'm with Gregg Williams on this one -- I remember sitting in that pressbox in that empty stadium in Arizona in 2005, with the Skins in the process seemingly of blowing a very winable must-win game, watching JJ Arrington crumble at the very thought of getting crushed by Sean on that fourth-and-short play and thinking that my eyes must have cheated me. No way did that really happen. And then looking at the replay and being, like, double-shocked that, indeed, it actually happened that way.


Chicago: Would Joe Gibbs still be the coach today if it weren't for ST's murder?

Jason La Canfora: It certainly weighed on him, but with the health issues in Joe's family -- especially his grandson's cancer -- I think he may have moved on either way in hindsight, but on some level Sean's death was definitely a factor.


Loudoun County, Va.: Re the legacy of the Sean Taylor murder -- Jason: When will the NFL admit it has a major problem with these family members, "friends," and leeches creating problems in the lives of these players? I bet there have been other break-ins or violent incidents short of murder caused by this throughout the league. Can the NFL do anything?

Jason La Canfora: The league is certainly aware of such issues, and at the rookie symposium and other NFL/NFLPA events they certainly stress the importance of choosing one's associates wisely, etc.

I'm not sure how much any league can do to truly prevent and mitigate who their players hang out with, but trust me, with as many meetings as PacMan Jones has had with Roger Goodell, no doubt the league understands the underlying issues in many of these cases.


Virginia Beach, Va.: Jason,

Thanks for all the coverage on Sean Taylor all of you and your colleagues have brought us a year ago and today. Being a die-hard Skins fan for all 23 years of my life I know I bleed burgundy and gold and might be a little biased so I need you to clarify something for me.

I've been getting into conversations with my friends discussing Sean Taylor lately. I've been under the notion that he had the ability to be the best safety ever. No one in my opinion had the range, the knack to find the ball, or ever hit any harder than MEAST did.

True he only had the opportunity for 3 and 1/2 years to show the world, but can you name anyone that hit harder than that man? Or had the ability to cover more ground? Or had a penchant for getting to the ball than he did? Thanks for all the love. RIP Sean

Jason La Canfora: Thanks for your kind words.

I think in his final season Sean was starting to truly put it all together and be the player they hoped he would be. He was on his way to being the best ever and a prototype for everyone else to come, but he was stripped of the opportunity to stay at that level for any period of time.


Durham, N.H.: Hi Jason,

Thanks for the chats and the blog work. I had a question about Sean Taylor, a guy that by all accounts the media completely misunderstood. While he refused to talk to the media, which I think endeared him to many fans (at least me), do you think that this behavior has had an influence on how other athletes deal with you and other reporters? That is, do they see it as a good idea to avoid you or a bad idea because of the chance they will be mis-portrayed?

Are there others on the team that refuse to talk to reporters?


Now Playing: Frank Black, "Dog Gone"

Jason La Canfora: Frank Black is a genius.

As for the media, players have long refused to chat for various reasons, and as someone who is all about the First Ammendment, I can respect their wishes, even if the leagues urge players to speak to the media. It's an individual choice.

I don't think anyone would or has opted not to talk because Sean did not. It's a personal decision and the Redskins over my five years covering them have had a ridiculously easy group of guys to cover. It's an outstanding locker room froom our perspective.

And even when Sean was not talking, pretty much everyone else always did. LaVar would shut it down with us from time-to-time, but even then it was for his own reasons and not in connection to what Sean was doing.


Los Angles: If you could ask Sean Taylor one question, what would it be?

Jason La Canfora: I've been thinking about this for a half hour now since I first saw this question, and I'm sorry, but I still don't think I can give a decent enough answer.

I never had the chance to get very close to him -- learning about him through his coaches and teammates -- and would have a ton of things to go over with him, from the events of that night, to some decisions he made, to trying to get inside his head in terms of how he approached the game.


New York City: Not that this is fair to Laron Landry, but as talented as he is I still feel like Sean was a once in a generation type of player who would have dominated from the safety spot for a decade.

How can the Redskins possibly ever recover from a personnel standpoint from this? I mean most teams only get players like that every 20 years.

R.I.P. #21 - We won't ever forget you.

Jason La Canfora: I agree with you in that it's not fair to ask LaRon to be Sean, and frankly I don't think LaRon will be.

As for recovering from it, they have done a tremendous job of still stopping the run and taking away the deep ball without Sean, but his big-play explosiveness is somethign they badly miss. You can't replace Sean's presence and instincts and ferocity.


AL SJ: Will Joe Gibbs and/or Gregg Williams (Jax plays on Monday night) come to the game for the tribute?

Jason La Canfora: Honestly, I am not sure. I spoke to Gregg for the column and he did not mention it. Not sure about Gibbs, though I guess the Nascar season is over, right?


Annapolis, Md.: We all are busy with work, kids, school, sports, PTA activities, etc... The days pass so fast and its scary to sit back and think just how precious and short our time on this earth really is. It really puts things in perspective. It's so sad to see one of the most gifted person and Redskin of all time to leave us too soon. I will always remember what I was doing and where I was when I heard the news of ST. We miss you "Reaper." Thanks for your professional reporting.

Jason La Canfora: All thanks to you.


We Miss You, Meast!: I know it's most likely not possible, but then again, Dan Snyder has the money to lay down and make it happen. The 'Skins should black out for the game. If anyone can get black jerseys and pants in time for Sunday it's the Snyderman.

Jason La Canfora: They would have had to petition the league a while back in order to do this, and I have not heard that they in fact did that, so I'm not sure it's possible at this late stage.


Washington, D.C.: Jason, I've always been fascinated by opposing players' opinions, especially of someone as ferocious as ST. Can you offer any specific commentary by an opposing player about Sean that made you say "Wow! He was that good?"

Jason La Canfora: Man, great question. I'm letting you guys down here. I remember Chad Johnson talking about Sean Taylor a little bit after that Cincy game in '04 when Sean lit up Rudi Johnson. Pretty lame, I know.


Laurel, Md.: Hey Jason - Does the NFL have something against the Redskins? How is this not a national game with the Taylor ceremony and the NFC East's top 2 teams? Or is that a Fox thing? Outside of the DC area this game is not televised. I figured on this one-year occasion, the NFL might make this more of a national game and let the team wear a patch or something to honor him. Also, please tell the Marketing genius's at Redskin Park that a White Towel is not even close to properly honoring ST. That's a copy from Pittsburgh. Gees. Awful idea. Thanks for reading my question Jason!

Jason La Canfora: I don't think it's a bias, but I too was surprised that the game was not a 4:15 start. Two of the NFC's top teams, if nothing else.


Jason La Canfora: Well guys, my time is up here. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, questions and memories here, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Enjoy the game this weekend and be safe.



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