Sean Taylor was killed in 2007, but the memory of the Redskins‘ Pro Bowl safety very much lives on. In fact, Washington fans can expect to see a tribute to Taylor at least twice this coming season — when the team plays the Giants.
On Tuesday, Landon Collins, who New York drafted out of Alabama, tweeted out his gratitude to teammate Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for giving his jersey number to the rookie:
Collins had been assigned number 27 upon arrival with the Giants, but he was able to continue patterning himself after his “idol,” as Rodgers-Cromartie switched to 41. At Alabama, Collins wore 26, just as Taylor did when he played at Miami.
In fact, it was during Taylor’s days with the Hurricanes that a young Collins first became enamored of the safety’s playing style. From a December report by Saturday Down South:
Seven days before his ninth birthday as a pee wee football star in 2001, Collins watched Taylor, a true freshman who later developed into a unanimous All-American selection and defensive player of the year in the Big East, capture the 2001 BCS National Championship with a convincing win over Nebraska.
It was then, with hours of NFL tape during Taylor’s brief stint with the Washington Redskins to follow, that Collins pinpointed the position he wanted to master as one of college football’s future most-feared hitters.
“That’s the reason I wear No. 26,” Collins said. “That was my guy before he passed away.”
It was that devotion, along with an affinity for Clinton Portis, that caused Collins to become a Redskins fan. With the sixth pick of the second round, Washington might have had a chance to fulfill the Alabama player’s dream, except the Giants traded up to the top of that round to snag the star safety.
That may actually have worked out pretty well for Collins, as if he likely would have been unable to wear 21 with the Redskins, who have unofficially retired that number. This way, he gets two chances a year to demonstrate his appreciation for the late safety to the fan base that still mourns his passing.