New York Giants safety Landon Collins has idolized former Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor since the latter’s championship tenure with the Miami Hurricanes from 2001 to 2003. Heading into the 2015 NFL draft, Collins said he patterned his game after the hard-hitting Taylor and that playing for the Redskins would be a dream scenario.
“I grew up a Redskins fan,” Collins told NFL Network a couple weeks before the 2015 draft. “I was a big Sean Taylor and Clinton Portis fan. Those were my two favorite players, so I grew up seeing them play for the Redskins, so that would be my dream, to play there.”
Now, Collins has a permanent reminder of his fandom through a painting created by artist Jeff John, who presented the piece to Collins while wearing a Redskins hat.
Collins, 22, posted the image on his Instagram page, writing, “Appreciate it @jeffjohnart 💯….my first ever painting and this is going to be one of the closest ones to me…appreciate you making this happen 💯 #seantaylor21 #rip #legendary.”
John posted a timelapse video of the painting on his YouTube channel.
The painting is a recreation of an image Collins posted on Instagram last June.
This isn’t the first Sean Taylor painting John has created. A video he posted on YouTube in late March shows him recreating Taylor’s famous touchdown leap on New Year’s Day in Philadelphia to clinch a 2006 playoff spot.
Collins, who started all 16 games for the Giants and totaled 112 tackles as a rookie, has been far from shy about his admiration for Taylor, whom he never met. A simple search of “Sean Taylor” on Collins’s website brings up a collection of articles referencing Collins and his respect for the late safety. Collins’s Instagram page has tributes to Taylor dating back several years.
Despite playing for a Washington rival, his Twitter header and avatar feature himself and Taylor.
Collins cited Taylor as the reason he wore number 26 (Taylor’s number at Miami) at the University of Alabama. Before the Giants played the Redskins at FedEx Field in late November last season, almost exactly eight years to the date of Taylor’s passing, Collins reminisced about the memories created by the man who he labeled as “Meast.”
“When I go out there and do warm-ups and stuff, I just want to look at the memory of him and his name up there and stuff like that,” Collins the week leading up to the game. “It’s going to be fantastic and it’s going to be a dream come true to be on the field he played on.”
Collins was originally assigned number 27 by the Giants. He attempted to acquire number 26 from running back Orleans Darkwa but with no luck. After telling cornerback and then-owner of number 21, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, what the number meant to him, Collins eventually landed the number.