On Wednesday, the day before he was introduced at Redskins Park, Washington free agent safety signee Landon Collins showed off a game-worn, signed Sean Taylor No. 21 jersey that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder gave him.
“Honored by Mr. Snyder aka Dan,” Collins, who has idolized Taylor since high school, wrote on Instagram. “This is unreal. #ripseantaylor.”
Collins said Snyder presented him the signed Taylor jersey, one of two in Snyder’s collection, at dinner on Wednesday night. Snyder, who chartered a flight for players, coaches and team employees to attend Taylor’s funeral in 2007, described how much Taylor had meant to him personally and the organization before Collins opened the gift.
“I just broke down,” Collins told The Team 980′s Doc Walker on Thursday. “I couldn’t say nothing, I couldn’t touch the box. My son was in my lap, he’s just opening the box, and he pulled out the jersey and I broke down. It was breathtaking. I think I was sitting there for 20-30 minutes. I couldn’t eat, just staring at the jersey there in the box. It was an honor. I thank Mr. Snyder for that. He’s going to get the same passionate kid that he had in Sean Taylor in me, I promise you that.”
During Thursday’s news conference, Collins said he just shook his head at Redskins linebacker Ryan Anderson, a teammate of his at the University of Alabama, who was sitting at his dinner table.
“He said, ‘I should’ve told you what was in the box so you didn’t have to cry,’” Collins said with a laugh.
Collins was only 13 when Taylor was murdered during a home invasion in 2007, but he’s admired Taylor and patterned his game off the former Redskin since he first saw his highlights as a high school defensive back in Louisiana. Collins said he cried when he learned of Taylor’s death.
Collins wore No. 26 at Alabama, the same number that Taylor wore as a college star at the University of Miami. Before the 2015 NFL draft, Collins said being selected by the Redskins would be a dream, but he wound up with the Giants instead. As a rookie, Collins was originally assigned No. 27 before fellow defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie agreed to switch to No. 41 and give Collins his old No. 21. Taylor wore No. 21 during the final three years of his career with the Redskins after wearing No. 36 as a rookie.
“I feel like that’s the armor,” Collins said of wearing No. 21. “I’m wearing his armor. When I put that number on, I’m always representing him in any form or fashion. I try to do my best by it.”
The Redskins haven’t announced which number Taylor will wear in Washington. No Redskins player has worn No. 21 since Taylor’s death, though ex-Redskins safety Ryan Clark wore those digits in practice as a tribute to his former teammate.
“I hope, I hope, that’s big shoes to fill,” Collins said during his news conference when asked about the possibility of wearing No. 21.
Earlier in the day, during an appearance with Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on 106.7 The Fan, Collins said wearing Taylor’s number “would be an honor . . . if the family would allow me to.”
On Instagram, Collins reposted an illustration the NFL tweeted depicting him in a No. 27 Redskins jersey. While recently re-signed running back Adrian Peterson owns No. 26, Collins could opt for Taylor’s rookie number. The No. 36 jersey was most recently worn by fellow safety and Taylor admirer D.J. Swearinger, who was released for insubordination in December.
This post has been updated.
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