Correction to This Article
This article on the funeral of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor implied that about 100 members of the organization attended. The number was about 300.

Hail, and Final Farewell

Teammates, Friends Join Family in Paying Tribute

By Amy Shipley and Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, December 4, 2007; Page A01

MIAMI, Dec. 3 -- The entire Washington Redskins organization and more than two dozen NFL players and officials joined thousands of other mourners to pay their final respects to slain safety Sean Taylor on Monday in an emotional three-hour funeral service at a collegiate basketball arena.

Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and many of Taylor's NFL, college and high school teammates were among the 18 speakers who offered condolences or personal recollections, many raw and tearful, others funny and touching, in front of about 3,000 mourners on the Florida International University campus.

Many reminisced about Taylor's smile, his devotion to his family, girlfriend and young daughter, and his uncommon athletic feats on the field.

"There are not enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe how special he was," said Michael Outar, an uncle of Taylor's.

"Sean, I love you as my brother, and I love you as my friend," former Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington said, his voice cracking. "Today my heart is broken."

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson also spoke, urging mourners to rise to their feet and shout and applaud for Taylor, then used his death to call for tougher gun control laws. "Sleep on, sweet prince," Jackson said. "You still challenge us to win the big game, so let's go to a higher ground and choose life over death."

Taylor, 24, died last Tuesday after being shot the previous morning in his Miami home by an intruder in a bungled burglary attempt. Four men from Fort Myers, Fla., were arrested Friday and charged with felony murder and armed robbery.

Bouquets draped Taylor's closed casket and about two dozen large flower arrangements flanked the elevated stage behind it. More than 100 members of the Redskins' front office and team occupied a large portion of white folding chairs that provided the floor seating. Black drapery covered the arena walls. The overflow crowd and media sat in bleachers above the floor and stage.

Taylor's 18-month-old daughter, Jackie, was wheeled into the service asleep in a stroller. When she awoke, she frolicked among the flowers surrounding her father's casket, played with her aunt's dark sunglasses and scampered about in a burgundy dress.

After the service, Taylor's body was taken to a cemetery for a private burial near his boyhood home in the southern part of Miami-Dade County. Before Taylor's casket was wheeled to a waiting hearse, team owner Daniel Snyder and many players approached Taylor's family and friends to offer hugs and condolences.

At one point during the service, when the Redskins were acknowledged by Alphonso Jackson III, the presiding pastor, Taylor's father, Pedro Taylor, jumped to his feet and led a standing ovation.

Snyder was supposed to be one of the pallbearers along with actor Andy Garcia, who is an uncle to Taylor's girlfriend, Jackie Garcia; Rene Garcia, Jackie's father; Ed Hill, an uncle to Taylor; and Emory Williams, a cousin. However, while the family was mingling after the ceremony, funeral directors pushed the casket out.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company