A lot of media sites are posting stories about Sean Taylor that were written at various points during his tragically brief NFL career. The focus is on his arrests, skipping the rookie symposium and other such moments. I have one here that I wrote on the first day of training camp the August following his arrest in Miami in 2005.
There was a glitch in getting my press credential on that day, so I ended up watching with all of the other fans there. As it turned out, it was a fortunate thing. If I'd been inside the fence, I would have gone up to the area where players are interviewed and I never would have seen Taylor taking his image rehabilitation effort straight to the fans.
Taylor Works on Image Rehab
By Rich Tandler
As training camp starts, there are a few Redskins who are in the process of rehabbing various body parts—sprained ankles, injured knees, and so on. There is one in camp, however, who is on a mission to rehab a badly bruised reputation.
That player would, of course, be Sean Taylor. After practice in the morning, he went to patch up his reputation with the media. After the afternoon session, he worked on repairing his reputation with the fans. And during the two practice sessions, he did what he does best; he played football. His abilities in that area will certainly be the best medicine in fixing his image.
The session with the fans was extraordinary and hasn't been covered much elsewhere. His face beaded with sweat, Taylor worked his way down the fence at Redskins Park, shaking hands, signing jerseys, hats, footballs, yearbooks, scraps of paper, anything that his Sharpie would write on. He took care of kids and adults, accommodating virtually everyone who wanted his autograph. Taylor even posed for a few pictures with fans.
It seemed to be one of those nice, spontaneous moments but it became evident that it wasn't. Soon after Taylor came over to the fence, a couple of men with large, stuffed duffel bags worked their way into the middle of the crowd. Inside the bags were good quality black backpacks, just in time for back to school, bearing an embroidered "ST 21" logo. They were passed out to kids in the crowd.
Planned or not, Taylor's actions certainly boosted his standing with the several hundred who were there. Most of the members of the media, however, were not there as they were off pursuing other stories. A TV reporter tried to get a comment out of Taylor, but was unsuccessful.
As far as his session with the media, it was refreshing to see that he didn't come out and read a canned statement like some others who have legal problems such as ones stemming from shoving cameramen. While Taylor was far from candid—he wouldn't even say what his weight was—he did take questions from the press, also a departure from the standard playbook.
On field, Taylor was, well, Taylor. Even after a season of seeing the linebacker-sized Taylor line up in the defensive backfield, it still causes one to do a double take. He was hustling out there, once going full out in an obviously-futile effort to catch David Patten after the receiver caught a deep pass. In the 11-on-11 drills he was blitzing frequently, chasing down Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell. Late in the afternoon session he snared an interception off of a tipped ball, drawing props from his defensive teammates and a cheer from the crowd.