Three thousand people lined up to get into Redskins Park yesterday. A thousand of them wanted to watch the Redskins practice. The other 2,000 wanted to be Sean Taylor's next agent.
Man, the 21-year-old rookie really showed Jeff Moorad and Eugene Mato, didn't he? First, he fired agent Drew Rosenhaus. Now, he's fired them, too. For two weeks of representing him, or 10 business days, if you prefer, Moorad and Mato get 3 percent of Taylor's $40 million deal. Now they just sit back and collect a million bucks, give or take. What does that work out to per hour for doing nothing? Taylor just got the most expensive advice since the guy who told Martha Stewart to sell.
Moorad and Mato don't even get stuck with the job of trying to recover Taylor's $25,000 league fine for skipping out of the NFL symposium for rookies. Was that the day the guest lecturers covered "Picking the Right Agent for You"?
Under NFL rules, Taylor can't officially switch back to Rosenhaus, his former agent, for four more days. So, technically, we all still have a shot to land the gig. Taylor is going to find more messages on his answering machine than Mary J. Blige.
At the rate Taylor is saying, "You're fired," somebody's going to have to shut off his supply of "The Apprentice" reruns. It's not just the frequency of his cannings. It's the style. He fired Rosenhaus on the spot after his first Redskins news conference.
Basically, the only way Rosenhaus gets a payday out of this is if he renegotiates Taylor's contact at the earliest possible date -- which is a year from now. Oh, great. Taylor hasn't played a down and he's already gotten more headlines than any Redskins safety since Sammy Baugh. He may soon amass more controversial ink than Ken Houston, Paul Krause (both in the Hall of Fame), Brig Owens, Mark Murphy, Tony Peters and Alvin Walton combined. And, now that Rosenhaus has arrived, everybody naturally wonders if he's already angling to get a better deal as soon as the NFL rules allow him to make a fuss.
This is not the way you want the Redskins' sixth-highest pick in 40 years to start his career. Who did the background check on this guy, George Tenet? Memories of Heath Shuler, Desmond Howard and Michael Westbrook, all drafted higher, are still raw.
Coach Joe Gibbs described the drafting of Taylor as "the most researched thing in the history of sports." And that Taylor has a list of character references as long as your arm.
Though he's quiet, almost shy, his teammates and new coaches have taken to him. But even Taylor's teammate and ex-Miami Hurricane friend Clinton Portis has said, "He's got to stop doing this silly stuff."
All Taylor's mishaps haven't been his own fault, to be sure. LaVar Arrington squished a shaving-cream pie, containing menthol, into Taylor's face as a hazing prank. Taylor rolled on the ground in pain, screaming that he was blind, and missed practice the next day with eye problems. Remember, LaVar, next time use key lime, not Gillette Foamy.
The aftereffects of this cream-pie trauma haven't entirely worn off. Every time a waiter reads Taylor the dessert menu, he dives under the table. Who knows where it ends? Bill Parcells may issue seltzer bottles to his tight ends.
If just one or two of these mishaps and embarrassments had befallen Taylor, he might not take it to heart. But it's just been one goofy episode after another, including having his low-slung pants fall around his ankles at one practice as he tried to save the ball with one hand and his dignity with the other. He sprained his right knee in his first workout after signing and missed valuable time. While praising his effort, assistant coach-defense Gregg Williams says Taylor is "still taking baby steps" and "has a long way to go." Will he start the season opener? "Don't know," Williams said. In the midst of all this, Taylor has even changed his number at practice twice, something few players do. Is it to change his luck? Confuse those watching him? Just a whim?
To add to his idiosyncrasies, Taylor hasn't talked about any of his misadventures with the media. Mystery only heightens interest. "No, I'm not answering no questions ever," he told a TV crew yesterday. "I'm not talking any day," he told reporters.
Later, when he was sitting on a stoop with Portis, Taylor was friendly and seemed to indicate he would talk in due time.
Right now, however, everything seems to be swirling around him. His contract has him most confused. Others, with obvious ulterior motives, are bad-mouthing the contract he received, even though it includes a $13.045 million bonus and will be worth $18 million even if he is a bust as an NFL player. Unluckily, Taylor isn't sophisticated enough in the ways of the NFL to understand that this is standard operating procedure. Players who haven't signed yet use the contracts of those who have signed -- such as Taylor -- as bargaining chips. You always knock the benchmark deal in hopes of doing better for yourself.
"Teams wait for a bad deal to hang their hats on and fortunately for the Browns, that's what happened," said Kellen Winslow Sr. to the Cleveland Plain Dealer last week, discussing his son, Kellen Jr., who was drafted No. 6 after Taylor. "Just because Sean Taylor signed a bad deal doesn't mean we're going to."
Within days, Taylor had fired his agents, though the deal was slightly better than last year's No. 5 pick. All this must have brought some glee to Winslow's agent, Kevin Poston, who also represents Arrington. Yes, the Arrington-Poston-Redskins contract feud of this spring is not on the front burner anymore. But if Poston can stir the pot, he'd hardly miss the chance.
"We hope it doesn't become a distraction for him," said Joe Bugel, assistant head coach-offense. "If he'd stuck with Rosenhaus all along, he might have been better off. Why ditch him? He deals with the Redskins great.
"The kid is a great player. He has a great work ethic and he never says a word on the field. But you never know what's going on in their heads off the field. We really checked him out. But he's only  years old. I'm 64 and I'm still a little loose," Bugel said. "We can all use a little help."
According to several Redskins players and coaches, Taylor is already well-liked, studies hard and is seen by veterans as a fairly typical high-pick rookie who is being hit simultaneously by all the decisions and confusions that go with mega-money NFL demands and far more media attention than he had in college.
"We heard that he was slow to give his trust. But once he gives it, he gives it completely," said one Redskins source. "He's quiet, kind of sensitive and young. Right now, he doesn't know quite who to trust."
Throughout the Redskins' world, many ask, "What's the deal with Sean Taylor?" And, so far, nobody knows. But give it time. If he can stick with one agent and one uniform number, heal his knee and keep his pants up, not get any more league fines, learn the plays and say a few words to his public, then he'll be just another $40 million rookie surrounded by all-pro dreams.
That's not too much to ask. Is it?