The Washington Football Team will retire Sean Taylor’s No. 21 jersey over the weekend in a move that raised eyebrows amid the fallout around Jon Gruden’s emails.
Washington made the announcement Thursday the team would honor Taylor with the ceremony.
New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress (R) gets control off his catch from a first down pass from quarterback Eli Manning in front of Washington Redskins free safety Sean Taylor (21) in the second quarter of their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey Oct. 8, 2006. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)
“I came into the NFL the same year as Sean Taylor and immediately his athletic ability, resilience, grit, and relentless work ethic set him apart. I and many others looked to him as a role model,” Washington team president Jason Wright said in a statement. “The fact that he was tragically taken so early hurt our player community, but also our fans, coaches, and staff. We will continue to remember him and hold him up as an example of professionalism and excellence, and we will all strive to mirror his excellence in our own ways.”
Washington selected Taylor with the No. 5 pick of the 2004 NFL Draft. He was a two-time Pro Bowler before he was killed in a botched robbery attempt in 2007.
Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor (21) intercepts a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings (85) from quarterback Brett Favre in the fourth quarter of their NFL football game at Lambeau Field Green Bay, Wisconsin Oct. 14, 2007. Favre, with two interceptions in the Packers win over the Redskins, set a new NFL career record for interceptions by a quarterback. (REUTERS/Allen Fredrickson)
Washington plays the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Taylor’s family will join the team for the ceremony on the field, players will wear a stick to pay tribute to the defensive back and coaches will wear a No. 21 lapel pin. Taylor’s only the third player in franchise history to have their jersey retired.
NFL fans noticed the odd timing of the jersey retirement announcement. The NFL has been urged to release emails that were a part of the league’s investigation into alleged workplace misconduct. Gruden’s damning emails were messages sent to former team president Bruce Allen.
A team spokesperson told ESPN the team started to plan the ceremony before the season.
Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor raises his hand to acknowledge fans after the Redskins defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia in this January 1, 2006 file photograph. Taylor, who was shot and killed at his Florida residence on November 26, 2007, was elected as a starting player to the NFL Pro Bowl posthumously on Dec. 18, 2007. (REUTERS/Tim Shaffer/Files)
“We have been planning this weekend’s tribute to Sean Taylor since before the start of the season in partnership with Sean Taylor’s family and as part of our Alumni weekend activities. … We apologize to fans who would have liked more notice and will continue to share with fans ways we will be celebrating Sean Taylor’s legacy over the next month,” the statement said.