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Sean Taylor: Celebrity Injustice

Sean Taylor: Celebrity Injustice

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As some of you have noticed, the Sean Taylor legal case has not been discussed much here since it broke early last June. Perhaps such an omission has been irresponsible journalism on my part, but I had never seen enough about the details of the case to understand what happened. Believe it or not, I actually want to be informed about something before I form an opinion on it and, at least in in articles I've been able to find, the details of what actually happened have been very sketchy.

That is, in the articles I've been able to find up until today. I found this New York Times article by one Robert Andrew Powell. I'm not sure if Powell is a sports reporter or a legal reporter but he is definitely a reporter. He did some legwork, got access to the case file, interviewed one of the men involved in the incident and pieced together the best, most complete account to date of the confrontation that landed Taylor in legal hot water.

The picture painted is disturbing in many respects. I'm going to clip a few excerpts here, but I don't want to take too much of Powell's work. If you want to follow the rest of this blog, I'd suggest that you click on the link to Powell's story and read that and then come back.

Taylor, who had signed a multi million dollar contract a year earlier, was hanging out with a friend named Michael McFarlane in West Perrine, which Powell describes as, "a depressed community south of Miami." He brought along his two new ATV's to cruise the side streets and the lawns of the housing projects. At the end of the day, Taylor left them parked in McFarlane's lawn even though he didn't stay at his house.

The next morning the ATV's were gone. Yes, this just in, if you leave expensive items unsecured in housing projects overnight, they just might get stolen. To compound the stupidity, instead of calling the police Taylor, McFarlane and another unidentified man jumped into Taylor's truck and another car to cruise the neighborhood to try to find the vehicles.

For some reason they confronted a man named Ryan Hill, who was hanging out in the neighborhood with some friends and demanded to know where the ATV's were. Hill denied knowing where they were and that's when the confrontation started. Powell interviewed Hill for this story:

"He (Taylor) started talking nasty and stuff, talking about how: 'The police can't touch me. I own this town,' " Hill, 22, said in an interview on the stoop outside his mother's public-housing apartment in West Perrine, where he lives with her, a brother and a sister.

According to Hill and other witnesses, Taylor exited his truck, pulled a gun out of his waistband and pointed it at Hill and a couple of his friends. Witnesses said another man pulled out an M-16 and demanded that Hill return Taylor's A.T.V.'s. When Hill denied stealing the vehicles, Taylor and the other man left in their cars. Both vowed to return and kill everyone present, according to depositions from Hill and other witnesses.

Obviously, if this is true, Taylor committed a crime here in pointing a gun at people and by threatening to kill them. He and the other men then left and further compounded the already already compounding stupidity and bad judgment by returning with a "posse". A fistfight evidently started by Taylor ensued and ended when Hill and his group fled. So now we have another crime committed by Taylor in starting a fight.

As if all of this wasn't strange enough, there was one final twist. Taylor drove his GMC Yukon back to McFarlane's house, parked it in front, and went inside.

A silver car pulled up. Hands poked out of the car's windows. From inside the house, McFarlane noticed guns and dived to the floor, according to depositions given by witnesses to Taylor's lawyers.

The Yukon was struck at least 15 times, and the police recovered 27 bullet cases, according to the police report.

Taylor was not at the house when police arrived. He turned himself in to police three days later to face one count of felony assault and one count of battery. In January, Dade County DA Michael Grieco, a/k/a DJ Dirty Sanchez, filed two additional felony assault charges. Since there was a gun involved in the assault cases they each carry a mandatory minimum of three years in jail if Taylor is convicted of them.

With the warning that I'm not a lawyer and not intimately familiar with what goes on every day in the housing projects near Miami or elsewhere, let me take a stab a summing this up. Two vehicles costing thousands of dollars each were stolen. Two men, one of them Taylor, drew guns and made threats. A fight involving a "posse" and Hill's group of friends broke out. A car filled with men drive by and with multiple guns and apparent disregard for the safety of whoever was in McFarlane's house or any bystanders who may have been present unloaded a couple of clips of bullets into Taylor's truck.

And in all of this Sean Taylor, the one whose ATV's were stolen and whose truck was shot up, is the only one charged with a crime. Isn't it fair to say that he was the victim of a couple of crimes himself? That doesn't excuse the crimes, of course, but if this was such an outrageous happening that someone who didn't fire a single shot is facing nine years in the slammer for it, what about his co-conspirators? What about whoever stole the ATV's valued at thousands of dollars? What about the ones who did the drive by?

It's important to note two other points here, points that in many cases would be causes for leniency when it came to considering a sentence for a defendant. First, there doesn't seem to be any premeditation on Taylor's part; whatever crimes were ones committed in the heat of the moment. Second, it's very important to note that when he returned after making the death threats, Taylor was not armed.

One does not have to be a Redskins homer or a skeptic to think that this reeks of a case of a publicity-hungry DA going after the only famous person involved in the whole mess. We do know that the Grieco was using press clippings from the case to promote his second career as the above-mentioned DJ Dirty Sanchez. Apparently, going after some guy named Hill doesn't generate enough pub to make it worth the additional time. Might cut into the clubbing time, don't ya know.

When we use the term "celebrity justice" it usually is in reference to a case where a famous person gets a slap on the wrist for a crime that would have brought the full hammer of justice down on us average folks. In this case with Sean Taylor, we seem to have the mirror image of that with very serious charges being brought for an incident that, while it calls for legal action, does not seem to be serious enough to warrant the possibility of such a severe penalty.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 2: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game that the Redskins played from the time they moved to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. To get details on the book and ordering information, go to

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Free agency update: What happens next for the Redskins on the defensive line?


Free agency update: What happens next for the Redskins on the defensive line?

The Redskins sure hosted a lot of free agent defensive line visits in the second week of free agency, but so far, no signed contracts. 

Johnathan Hankins came to Ashburn. Sylvester Williams came to Ashburn. Pernell McPhee came to Ashburn. All three left without a done deal, and now for Redskins fans, the question becomes not about when a deal will get done, but if any deals will happen.

Actually, one deal did happen. According to a report, Williams has signed with the Lions. 

Since visiting the Redskins on Monday, Hankins also took a trip to see the Lions. McPhee, who was offered a contract by the Redskins, has since taken a trip to visit the Falcons. 


Keep in mind too, Washington expressed interest in nose tackle Bennie Logan last offseason, and the 6-foot-2, 309 lb., former Chief is again on the market. A visit from Logan would surprise nobody, though it hasn't been reported yet. 

Mother Nature might also be an impediment for the Redskins. A March snowstorm shut the D.C. region down on Wednesday, which could have limited potential free agent visits.

What's clear is between Hankins, McPhee and Williams this week, in addition to Muhammad Wilkerson and Benson Mayowa last week, the Redskins are obviously looking to upgrade their defensive line. Combine that with a contract restructure for incumbent Terrell McClain, and Washington has the flexibility to improve on last season's NFL-worst run defense. 

That doesn't mean, however, the Redskins will absolutely sign one of the above mentioned players. And it doesn't mean outside linebacker Junior Gallete won't return to the Redskins either. 

Many fans wonder if a McPhee signing means the Redskins would move on from Galette. It might, but that's no sure thing. 

Washington went into the 2017 season with five outside linebackers: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Galette, Ryan Anderson and Chris Carter. Right now, the 'Skins only have Kerrigan, Smith and Anderson under contract. The team needs to add at least one OLB, but likely two.

McPhee also carries about 20 extra pounds on his frame than Galette, giving the former Bear and Raven more flexibility to play against the run. Galette is a speed, leverage and moves player, focused on getting to the quarterback. He's capable against the run, but in the same way a sports car shouldn't carry a snow plow, Galette should be used to pressure QBs. 

Point being: McPhee and Galette could both make sense for the Redskins, if the team can work out the cash. 

Money usually matters the most in free agency, and it's clear the Redskins haven't made the type of offers that any of these players felt compelled to immediately sign. Deals could still happen though. Hankins didn't sign last offseason until April and Galette seems to thank Redskins fans via social media with relative frequency. 

Washington also had some success with the patient approach to free agency. The team was able to keep Zach Brown, though it took some nervous days of allowing the tackling machine linebacker to test the free agent market. With that win in hand, don't expect the Redskins brass to change their philosophy. 

Until further notice, it's hurry up and wait season in Ashburn.

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Redskins Draft Countdown: Could Da'Ron Payne be the final piece to the D-line puzzle?

Redskins Draft Countdown: Could Da'Ron Payne be the final piece to the D-line puzzle?

Redskins draft countdown

Da’Ron Payne

Defensive tackle

Stuff the run in the middle of the line? Check. Get outside to stop stretch plays? Check. Get after the passer? Check. Yes, Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne checks all the boxes the Redskins are looking for on the D-line.

He can be the immovable object, taking on double and triple teams, and he also can chase down the quarterback. At 311 pounds he could be the Redskins’ nose tackle in base and move outside in nickel.

Height: 6-2
Weight: 311
40-yard dash: 4.95

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying

Payne possesses one of the most impressive combinations of strength and athleticism that we've seen from an interior lineman. He will be the premier run-stuffer in this draft, but he may have enough in the pass rushing toolbox to project as a better pro than college pass rusher. Payne is a game-ready starter who immediately upgrades a defense's ability to slow the run.

Lance Zierlein,

How he fits the Redskins: This just in—the Redskins need a nose tackle. Of course, if you’re reading this you know that, and you’ve known it has been the case ever since the Redskins went to the 3-4 defense in 2010.

In very closely related news, they need to play better against the run, too. You probably noticed that they were dead last in the league in rushing defense last year. And that the NFC East has two very strong rushing teams in the Eagles and Cowboys and a Giants team that could well take Saquon Barkley with the second pick in the draft. If they don’t fix their rushing defense they could literally get run over.

Payne could help them a lot. He can take on double and triple teams and clog up running lanes in the middle. If they try to go around him, he has the quickness to penetrate and disrupt outside runs.

And a defensive lineman taken in the top half of the first round should be able to provide some pass rush pressure. As noted by Zierlein, Payne has the potential to do that. He’ll never be a double-digit sack guy, but if he can kick in four to six per year and get some pressure up the middle, that would be fine.

Film review: vs. Tennessee, vs Georgia (national title game)

Like most players, Payne can’t get much in the way of a pass rush when he is double and triple teamed. But when they tried to block him one on one he consistently got pressure. Payne didn’t get many sacks, but he did make a difference. Against Georgia, one pressure resulted in an interception and another forced a third-down incompletion.

Payne is very difficult to move off the spot in the running game, even when the offense tries to do it with two or even three players. Running backs did not get by him on a regular basis. In the second half in particular, Georgia tried to move the ball with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, both of whom are likely to get selected in the top 100 in the draft next month. But they kept running into a mass of humanity in the middle of the line with Payne in the middle of it.

He played well during the Tennessee game during the regular season, but he didn’t have a lot of impact. The only time his name was called was when he was hit with a roughing the passer call.

Potential issues: At 311 pounds, Payne may not be the ideal size to fill the chronic hole at nose tackle. It should be noted, however, that defensive line coach Jim Tomsula has said that the Redskins aren’t necessarily looking for the 350-pound nose tackle and that a relatively smaller player can get the job done. Ziggy Hood played the nose at 305 pounds last year. The Redskins finished last against the run, although that’s not necessarily cause and effect.

Bottom line: The Redskins went 20 years without taking an interior defensive lineman in the first round before taking Jonathan Allen last year. Nobody could legitimately complain if they doubled up on first-round D-linemen after so many years of neglect.

Payne should be there when the 13th pick goes on the clock. Unless the Redskins address the nose tackle spot in free agency Payne will be under strong consideration. The defensive line improved last year with the additions of Allen in the draft, Stacy McGee as a free agent and the second-year emergence of Matt Ioannidis. Payne could be the final piece of what could be a dominant defensive line.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.