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Where does Sean Taylor rank among the NFL's all-time greatest safeties?

Where does Sean Taylor rank among the NFL's all-time greatest safeties?

Sean Taylor was just scratching the surface of reaching his potential when he was murdered in November of 2007. He was just 24.

Taylor was in the middle of the best season of his career; in just nine games, the safety had a career-high five interceptions. The year prior, Taylor, 23 at the time, was named to his first Pro Bowl.

On the latest edition of NBC Sports' Sports Uncovered podcast "Sean Taylor: The NFL Superstar We Didn't Get to Know," several of Taylor's former teammates and NFL analysts look back at his career, wondering where amongst the all-time greats the safety would be had he not been killed.

Former NFL safety Louis Riddick, who was the Redskins director of pro personnel from 2005-2007, believes Taylor was more skilled than Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed.

"Sean had more physical skills than Ed Reed," Riddick said. "It just would have been a matter of would he have been able to develop the intuition and the ability to anticipate and play mind games with quarterbacks on the level that Ed Reed did, probably better than anybody. We're talking about true greatest of all time status, which is what I truly believe he would have reached."

Ex-Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, who was part of that special Redskins' 2004 draft class along with Taylor, called the safety "everything you ask for in a professional athlete". He believes Taylor's death is not the reason so many people still try to emulate the safety on the field.

"It's not a tribute that guys are looking at Sean and saying because he had this terrible situation. It's because of the way he played the game," Cooley said. "All of us grew up with role models in the game, by Sean Taylor stood out over and over again. As a playmaker, as a big-hitter, as a guy that played relentlessly, fearlessly, he is the epitome of how you play the game. He was everything you ask for in a professional athlete. So that's why people want to be Sean."

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Opponents, Cooley said, were afraid of Taylor.

"Sean put fear into people when they were playing," Cooley said. "You can go back and watch the Terrell Owens play. Go back and watch a number of plays. People turned down balls in the middle of the field because of Sean."

NBC Sports Washington Redskins analyst Trevor Matich believes Taylor had the perfect combination of athletic ability and work ethic to become one of the NFL's greats.

"I saw him care about the craft of defensive football, care about not just what to do, but why it should be done that way," Matich said. "Sean Taylor was one of those elite athletes that cared about the grind, he cared about becoming better. Not just running around hitting people, but where to by, why and how. He was evolving into a player like Ed Reed, like J.J. Watt today, that fans will buy a ticket to go watch a defensive player."

Taylor's close friend and Redskins teammate, Clinton Portis, said that if Taylor were still playing today, he would have nothing else to prove.

"If Sean would not be playing this game at this moment, it would just be because he'd have nothing else to prove," Portis said. "It wasn't a challenge anymore. But you're talking about an individual that could have played forever."

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For Santana Moss, also a close friend of Taylor, Taylor's performance against the Green Bay Packers and Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre in 2007 showed the wideout how great the safety truly could be.

"Sean baited Brett Favre like four different times," Moss said. "Throw that ball there and see if he gets it. Brett being Brett, a gunslinger, he went 'OK, you're going to leave that guy open?' and Sean would take off and go after the ball. He dropped two of the picks. He ended up with two and he dropped two. He could have had four that night. Brett spoke about the incredible talent at safety for us, and he couldn't believe that Sean was making those plays.

"[Taylor] was a guy that had a range, second to none," Moss continued. "He can get to anywhere on the field from any position on it. That right there wows you more than anything."

Moss emphasized how much Taylor meant to the Redskins organization, and how the team will never be able to find a replacement for Taylor.

RELATED: MOSS AND PORTIS DETAIL SHOCK OF TAYLOR'S DEATH

"Sean just meant so much to this franchise. When you look back at it, we've been hurting at the safety position for a long time," Moss said. "We've been trying to find replacement after replacement. No matter how many guys come in here that he inspired, they can't be Sean."

The wide receiver listed two of Washington's most recent safeties, Landon Collins and D.J. Swearinger, as examples of good players who tried to replicate Taylor. But to Moss, any many other, no one can replicate No. 21.

"Landon Collins is here now; he can't be Sean. [D.J.] Swearinger was here a couple of years ago, he can't be Sean," Moss said. "[Laron] Landry was here with Sean. You could see when Sean was gone, Landry wasn't even Landry no more. It's just one of those situations man where he meant so much to this organization and that position, our defense hasn't even been the same without him."

And he was only getting started.

"It's the what-if that we will never know," Moss said.

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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From impossible to inevitable, Redskins name change seems imminent

From impossible to inevitable, Redskins name change seems imminent

A typhoon of momentum washed over the Washington football organization in the last week and all of a sudden one thing seems quite clear: The Redskins will never play another game.

There will still be football played at FedEx Field and that team seems very likely to still wear burgundy and gold, but after a series of public comments and private conversations with sources in and around the NFL, a Redskins name change is imminent.

Over and over and from different people, one phrase got repeated when asked if the Redskins were actually going to change the team name: "It's done."

The exact timeline remains murky, and there are difficult logistic, marketing and financial questions looming, but too much happened too fast for any other outcome than a name change.

Speaking with numerous sources one misconception emerged however.

While the Redskins publicly announced that the team is conducting a “thorough review” of the team name on July 3, multiple sources explained that internal conversations about changing the name have been going on for some time.

In fact, one source explained that after the murder of George Floyd in May and the massive public protests and demands for social justice that followed, the conversations about changing the Redskins moniker heated up the first week of June.

It’s unclear what the new name will be.

RELATED: COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF REDSKINS FAN-GENERATED NEW NAMES

Redtails and Warriors seem to have the most momentum, but that doesn’t mean either will be the new name. The organization wants to consult with a wide variety of people and resources before finalizing a selection.

The team is proud of its history, understandably, and does not want to abandon all of the team’s success and tradition. What exactly that means will be revealed, likely in the next month or so.

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Let’s be clear - public pressure from FedEx, Nike and Pepsi hastened the call for change.

When FedEx publicly requested on July 2 that Washington change its team name from Redskins, this process got sent into overdrive. The team announced its plan for an internal review of the name the next morning. But conversations, some extensive, had already begun inside the organization prior to FedEx’s announcement.

What once seemed unthinkable now seems inevitable - the Washington Redskins won’t take the field again. 

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Former Patriot and Eagle Pro Bowler Asante Samuel takes shot at Darrell Green

Former Patriot and Eagle Pro Bowler Asante Samuel takes shot at Darrell Green

Asante Samuel got hit Fourth of July fireworks started early Saturday morning with a negative tweet about NFL Hall-of-Famer Darrell Green.

The former Pro Bowler with the Patriots and the Eagles had a fine 11-year NFL career. He is a Super Bowl champion himself. But his out-of-nowhere tweets about Green, one of the NFL’s all-time great corners, were just…weird. 

Green was a dominant player on two Super Bowl champions, a seven-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in 1991. He was one of the fastest players in the league, a fearsome punt returner when necessary in playoff games and an all-around great player. Even other players from Samuel’s era were confused, including former Redskins safety Will Blackmon.

That's a pretty accurate description of the differences between Samuel's era and the way the game was played when Green was at his peak. Maybe he stuck around too long and maybe he wasn't close to the player he'd once been by the late 90s and early 2000s.

RELATED: HASKINS HAS A FAVORITE NAME PROPOSAL

But peak Darrell Green was an unquestioned Hall-of-Fame player. Teams didn't throw at him for a reason. When they did, they paid for it. Samuel got a little aggressive for a guy who might have cost the Pats an extra Super Bowl. 

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Tony Dungy, himself a great player and a Super Bowl champion as a player AND a coach, clapped back at Samuel for his ignorance of NFL history. 

That about says it all. 

For his part, Samuel doubled down responding to some tweets but by the afternoon he was starting to see the light. Sort of. 

 

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