What should have been done a long time ago finally happened on Oct. 17 in Washington, D.C.
The Washington Football Team retired the No. 21 jersey in honor of the late Sean Taylor, a versatile star in the Miami Hurricanes secondary from 2001 through 2003.
“I recruited Sean. His physical presence, his size and his speed. Sean Taylor could have played safety, linebacker, or running back at the University of Miami,” said former Miami Hurricanes head coach Larry Coker in an interview with SB Nation in 2009, who led UM to a national title in 2001. “He was just a great talent. He did everything.”
As the third Washington football player to have a number retired, Taylor carried an ability that most defensive backs lack — the talent to single-handedly win each game.
“You know, you might want to look this up. I think he had three interceptions and returned one for a touchdown,” Coker said. “He did about five things; he really won the game. Some of the coaches were saying, ‘Coach, I’m really glad you brought Sean today.’ It was a great head coaching decision on my part [laughing]. I hope you can find the stats on that because it was a phenomenal day. It rained the entire day in Tallahassee. It was a game we weren’t supposed to win.”
“We had lost our starting running back [Frank Gore] the week before. We were pretty heavy underdogs in Tallahassee. Sean went out and won the game for us,” he added.
Coker had threatened to bench Taylor after a bad practice that week and the hard-working free safety responded by having a great practice the next day and carrying the Canes to victory over FSU.
In three seasons, Taylor racked up 188 tackles, 14 interceptions and a forced fumble. After an excellent UM career, the Washington Football Team selected the Florida City native fifth overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. In 3 ½ years in Washington, D.C., the former Canes star totaled 299 tackles, nine forced fumbles and 12 interceptions, and played in two Pro Bowl games while garnering Second Team All-Pro honors in 2007.
Although his NFL career was cut extremely short due to his tragic death, Taylor left an immense impact on the game. Young players want to be like him and current NFL players have changed their numbers to No. 21 in honor of Taylor.
Taylor is in the Washington Football Team’s Ring of Fame, the roads leading to FedEx Field are called “Sean Taylor Road,” and now there will never be another No. 21 to suit up for the Washington Football Team.
Against then-No.18 ranked NC State on Oct. 23, the Hurricanes honored the 2001 National Championship team during a halftime ceremony. During the ceremony, players in attendance all wore Taylor’s No. 26 jersey. Taylor was a freshman during the 2001 season but made his presence felt, having won Big East Special Teams Player of the Week and was a key piece in the Hurricanes defensive schemes. Although Taylor wasn’t there on Saturday night, former teammates made sure he was a part of the celebration.