The Washington football team made an announcement Thursday that many fans believed was long overdue. The team will withdraw Sean Taylor’s number. 21 jersey.
Taylor’s number will be retired as part of Sunday’s game against the Chiefs at FedEx Field, as Washington announced on its official Twitter account.
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Taylor was the fifth pick in the 2004 NFL Draft and played 55 games for Washington. He’s had 305 tackles, 12 interceptions, 43 defensive passes, eight forced fumbles and two sacks during his three-and-a-half-season career. He’s made the Pro Bowl in each of his last two seasons and is known for his huge success over Bills punter Brian Moorman in that contest.
Sadly, Taylor’s life and career were cut short, as he was murdered in November 2007 after burglars broke into his Miami home. He was shot in the leg during the flight and his femoral artery was severed. He was only 24 years old.
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Taylor was on his way to becoming one of the best goalies in the NFL. He had five interceptions in nine games in 2007 at the time of his death. He was also a fan favorite, so it’s easy to see why Washington is pulling his number.
However, the team has been criticized for the time of the announcement. The NFL is currently embroiled in a scandal resulting from 650,000 emails generated as a result of a Washington workplace culture investigation under owner Dan Snyder. The emails, most of which were correspondence with general manager / team president Bruce Allen for a decade, led to Jon Gruden leaving the Raiders and criticism of Adam Schefter from ESPN.
Many NFL figures and members of the media took to Twitter and claimed the announcement looked like an attempt to distract from Washington’s involvement in the scandal. They also noted that Washington gave months ‘notice for Bobby Mitchell’s jersey removal last year while giving only days’ notice for Taylor’s ceremony.
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Washington responded to the speculation shortly after their announcement and explained that the event had been in preparation for weeks.
“We apologize to the fans who would have liked more notice and will continue to share with fans how we will celebrate Sean Taylor’s legacy over the next month,” a team spokesperson said, per Matthew Paras.