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Sean Taylor: Celebrity Injustice

Sean Taylor: Celebrity Injustice

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

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 http://www.RedskinsGames.com

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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