Thursday, November 29, 2007
Taylor's locker encased in Plexiglas as team tries to cope
ASHBURN, Va. -- Sean Taylor's locker has been sealed in
Plexiglas. The contents haven't been disturbed, and the stool with
his name on it still sits in front.
Clinton Portis can't bear to look at it.
"I stay out of the locker room," Portis said. "My locker is
next to his. A lot of guys will be over to the locker and looking
up and seeing the picture of Sean. Seeing that locker cased up,
seeing that seat sit right there, it's like an emptiness. It's a
shock that you can't look up and see him, and won't look up and see
Portis and receiver Santana Moss, the two Redskins players
closest to Taylor, and the coach who thought of him as a son spoke
publicly Thursday for the first time since the 24-year-old safety
was shot to death.
Even as the team inched closer to normalcy with a practice that
was livelier than the day before and questions from reporters that
actually dealt with football, the comments from Portis, Moss and
assistant coach Gregg Williams reinforced how much grieving
"The best way I know how to handle this situation is the way
Sean would have handled it," said Moss, who, like Taylor and
Portis, attended the University of Miami. "He would have mourned
for the moment that we had to mourn, but he would have went out
there and laced them up, and played like no other."
The investigation into Taylor's death continued Thursday in
Miami, where police have said they suspect Taylor was the victim of
a random burglary when he was shot at his home early Monday. Taylor
died the next day.
Police also are investigating a possible connection to a Nov. 17
break-in at Taylor's home, but Taylor was such a private man that
neither Moss nor Portis knew anything about the first incident.
"That's the type of guy Sean was," Moss said. "You'd never
know what was going on with him, good or bad."
Both said it was worth paying attention to Arizona Cardinals
cornerback Antrel Rolle, who said Wednesday that he didn't believe
Taylor's killing was a random event. Rolle said Taylor had many
enemies on the streets of Miami and that "they've been targeting
him for three years now."
"Antrel grew up with Sean, he knows the neighborhood, he knows
the people," Portis said. "He'll hear more conversations than you
would hear or I would hear. They're still from the same part of
town. Maybe he knew something we didn't know. It doesn't matter if
people were targeting him or not, but at the same time we need to
find who did it."
Portis said he considered wearing Taylor's No. 21 jersey in
Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills but decided against it.
"Time after time I always told you all that he was the best
player I've ever seen," Portis said. "For me to put that jersey
on, I can't live up to those expectations. I can't be Sean Taylor,
so I wouldn't even try."
A public viewing for Taylor is scheduled Sunday in Miami, and
the entire Redskins organization plans to fly to Florida to attend
the funeral Monday, three days before a game against the Chicago
In Washington, D.C., some fans brought a "Walking Book of
Condolences" to one of the city's poorest neighborhoods to give
fans who couldn't get to Redskins Park a chance to express their
Willie Mae Cobb, 63, was among those who showed up at the
Anacostia Metro station. She brought a poem that she had pasted on
red cardboard along with newspaper photos of Taylor.
"I really enjoyed his playing, and my heart goes out especially
to his baby girl and his girlfriend," Cobb said. "Even though he
went through troubles, he came around and all that was behind
him," she added.
At Redskins Park, Williams and Moss also shared emotional
anecdotes about Taylor. Williams, who often has spoken of the
"tough love" he gave Taylor over the years, was often seen
getting in Taylor's face on the sidelines.
"He could see me losing it a little," Williams said. "And he
would look at me and smile and say, 'Hey, coach that play is over,
get on to the next one.' He would immediately put me into 'I have a
job to do.' We had a synergy back and forth in those difficult
times, but we built that trust and love for each other."
Williams said memories of Taylor have helped him focus on
football this week.
"When I got the phone call and was grieving strongly, I felt a
presence," he said. "And the presence I felt was 'Coach, that
play's over, get onto the next. I'm watching you.' I got a job to
do. Get on to the next. He's watching me."
Moss said Taylor had a "different kind of glow" about him last
week, particularly on Thanksgiving Day. The usually introverted
Taylor went out of his way to wish coaches and teammates a happy
holiday and was talking about his 18-month-old daughter.
Moss wondered if Taylor's mood foreshadowed what was about to
happen, that Taylor was meant to leave his teammates on an upbeat
"It was unusual for Sean," Moss said. "I mean, he was in high
spirits. It was almost like when it happened, I thought back on
those couple of days. And it was something, like, it was a message
right then and there that we didn't see at the time. You never