Sean Taylor & Thug Life in the NFL

by Robin Forman

They all said Sean Taylor was just turning his life around.

The young and powerful Taylor died Tuesday (Nov. 27) after suffering injuries from a gunshot wound.

Washington Redskins’ head coach Joe Gibbs, with tear-glossed eyes, called it a tragedy.

Taylor, who was a Pro Bowl safety, was shot in his home by an intruder, leaving the Redskins in mourning.

His teammates said that the birth of his daughter seemed to have helped him reorder his life.

"It's hard to expect a man to grow up overnight," Clinton Portis, his teammate, told the Associated Press. "But ever since he had his child, it was like a new Sean, and everybody around here knew it. He was always smiling, always happy, always talking about his child."

But Taylor's death raises a troubling issue: these deaths-by-shooting in football seem to be on the rise.

Just shy of a year ago, Broncos' cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting following an argument at a Denver nightclub. University of Miami defensive lineman Bryan Pata was shot to death in November 2006 several miles from Taylor's home in an unsolved killing.

What is this violent crime doing in football? Why is it in the National Football League?

What about the brawl with Adam “Pacman” Jones of the Tennessee Titans at a strip club in Las Vegas? Three people were shot after that fracas.

After that incident, the co-owner of the Minxx Gentleman’s club, Robert Susnar told ESPN "the NFL is starting to look like an organized crime family, and I find that objectionable."

Well, Rob, so do I.

What is this?

This once was a gangster thing. And by gangster, I mean both gangsters as in mobsters and gangstas as in boys-in-the-hood.

Please do not misinterpret this. The death of Taylor is a tragedy. He left behind a fiancée, an 18-month-old daughter, and a team of players who spoke very highly of him.

But the violence of this death along with the other crimes sprinkled throughout the last NFL season shows we’ve got to question what’s going on here.

(Editor's Note: The NFL plans to hold memorials for Taylor at all of the league's games through this weekend.)

(The photo shows Sean Taylor at a practice session of the Washington Redskins; the photo is by dbking of Washington, D.C., and was obtained via Flickr, using a Creative Commons License.)

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Anonymous said...

As I recall there are over 20,000 gun murders per year in the US of A. I think the NFL is only reflecting the society it operates in. The gun crime rate in the USA is so far out of wack with the rest of the world that it is shameful.

There is an interesting case in the courts now that could affect gun control. Most nations on earth put controls on handguns. This case may move the US in that direction but the gun nuts will probably block it.

In any case, with regard to the right to bear arms. I feel I can best defend my family at home with tactical nuclear weapons and I hope the NRA will fight for my right to have them. (an ode to Michael Moore on that line)

Anonymous said...

This is a well-written story. Robin Forman is a first-rate journalist.

Anonymous said...

Turns out the persons arrested were in fact robbing Taylor's house and did not think he would be at home. This crime had nothing to do with the National Football League other than perhaps the players are well paid.

Rick Rockwell said...

To the last anonymous commentator: True, enough. Taylor was a victim in this crime and it had little to do with his past actions.

But you can't ignore the fact that the new NFL commissioner knows he has a problem with wannabe gangsters in the league. Otherwise, why has he started to take long-overdue action against the likes of "Pacman" Jones? This piece is a good indictment of the league on that score.

Also, although some want to ignore it now as we turn Taylor into a martyr, this was a player with a checkered history both on and off the field of poor behavior, including his own use of guns.

Even some of his life-long friends, such as Antrel Rolle of the Cardinals discussed their concerns that Taylor's death may have been connected to his associations with people of questionable character.

The NFL has long had a problem with lawbreakers and it has had too permissive of an attitude toward such players, especially when they were playmakers. For more on this, please go here.

Finally, I have to note that it is easy to sound righteous and remain anonymous.

Robin, Daughter of the Desert and American Bad Ass said...

I think everyone here has a valid point. Especially the 2nd anonymous writer who said Robin Forman is a first-rate journalist. Flattery will get you everywhere, friend.

Rick pointed out what I was hesitant to (in light of the timing of my article and the death of Taylor) about Taylor's reprehensible on and off-field behavior. People hated this guy up until last week.

Yes, there are gun murders all over this country all the time. But I should have been clearer about how when you become a public figure you have a certain responsibility to conduct yourself in a manner befitting of someone who the young and the old idolize.

Furthermore, if you think he was a target just because of his monetary stature, why the hell didn’t he have a better security system in his house?

As for the Taylor being a victim of a regular robbery, fine. You can have your point. What I said was that it raises alarms because this is the most recent criminal activity in the NFL and there are other incidents that need examining. Don’t even get me started on Michael Vick and how I think he should die by dog mauling.

And I don't care that the robbers didn't think he'd be at home. Those boys (I call them boys because they were b/w the ages of 17 and 20) were stupid. And please note Rick's point about his long-time friend’s thoughts on the matter.

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