During the mid-2000s, the Washington Redskins organization was largely defined by three players: running back Clinton Portis, wide receiver Santana Moss, and safety Sean Taylor.
The trio, all University of Miami graduates, were also close friends. When Taylor tragically died on November 27, 2007 at his Miami-area home, it was a devastating moment neither Portis nor Moss will ever forget.
Portis and Moss detailed the shock of their teammate and close friend's death on NBC Sports' Sports Uncovered podcast episode "Sean Taylor: The NFL Superstar We Didn't Get to Know."
Moss was receiving treatment in the training room at the Redskins' team facility when he got the call that Taylor had died.
"I got a call that he died, and I cried like a baby right on the table," Moss said. "My trainer had to stop because I just got up and left. I was done. I couldn't believe it."
The wide receiver explained that once he heard about his close friend's death, everything else started to spiral downward.
"To this day, reliving those memories, it hurts. Man, that was a tough week," Moss said. "It was tough to the point where I saw stuff just spiraling. If I wasn't strong mentally, all of us, especially the people that was close, I just can't imagine what the family went through."
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Moss felt that he was becoming truly close with Taylor just when the safety's life was tragically taken from him.
"I felt like something was taken that day," Moss said. "I don't know if because of how many close encounters we had throughout the locker room, the meeting room, the plane rides, I felt like I lost a close friend. I was gaining a friend, and I lost him just like that. Right before I got to be best pals with him, he was taken just like that. It was hard."
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Once Portis got word that Taylor was in the hospital following the shooting, the running back flew down to Miami and went to the hospital.
"I was in Miami. I went to the hospital the day before," Portis said. "I still remember the knock when [Redskins owner] Dan [Snyder] delivered the news that he was gone."
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Despite enduring a painful tragedy, the Redskins still had a game to play the following Sunday. As the Redskins ran onto the FedExField turf, Portis waved a No. 21 flag from side to side, honoring his late friend. Fans were given No. 21 towels at the game, too.
On Washington's first defensive play, they lined up with just 10 players in honor of Taylor. After Portis scored the team's first touchdown of the game, he waved his arms like an angel's wings in honor of his late friend and teammate.
"On the verge of the world, I think Sean had grown so much," Portis said. "He was on his way to doing something so special that was going to be unheard of."
Listen to the full episode of Sports Uncovered's Sean Taylor: The NFL Superstar We Didn't Get to Know, click here.
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