I spent one night in Vegas a few years back playing craps at Bally’s (ugh) with a couple of diehard Skins fans. One of them decided that, before every roll, he would put the dice on a 2 and a 1, in honor of Sean Taylor. So then we all started doing it.

Just by way of saying, Redskins fans have many unique ways of paying tribute to the former safety, and none of them should really surprise me any more.

Which brings me to the crushed beer can salute. Sarah posted an image earlier this week of Taylor’s number, writ large in the FedEx Field parking lot with the help of some Miller Lite cans. I made some reference on Twitter to that being an odd sort of tribute, and one of the creators then sent in an explanation.

“The 21 started at the very first game after Sean Taylor’s death,” Reader Erin explained. “It has turned into a huge tradition and somewhat of a superstition. Me and my two older brothers Patrick (30) & Tom (32) started the tradition. Everyone at the tailgate is required to crush their cans and add them to the pile. About three minutes before heading into the stadium, we start making the 21.”

Turns out Patrick actually went to the 2007 Redskins game in Tampa the weekend Taylor was shot. And I actually ran into him in BWI Airport while we were both returning from that game, just moments before everything started to go crazy.

Her family, Erin further explained, is huge, including more than 40 first cousins, all of whom are Skins fans. Half the family comes from Hyattsville and has DeMatha roots; half the family hails from Bowie and sides with Gonzaga. Many of them have Redskins season tickets, and have collaborated on robust tailgates in the green lot for years.

Erin says she and her brothers have made a Sean Taylor tribute out of as few as 10 cans (when off-site), or out of hundreds of cans (at the stadium). The more people, and the more tailgating hours, and the more beers they have, the bigger the salute. One side of the family prefers Miller Lite, the other side sticks with Bud Light, but in truth, any crushed beer can will do. And  they have done this dozens of times over the past half-decade.

“Typically, when people walk by, they are compelled to take pictures (much like the one shown in your Bog),” she wrote. “Some people applaud us. I personally haven’t seen anyone have a negative reaction towards it. When the game is over and we return to the tailgate, the 21 is pretty much disheveled, and we collect all of the cans and throw them away.”
And yes, this next stop was probably inevitable.