Nov. 27, 2018, marked the 11-year anniversary of the untimely death of Washington Redskins superstar safety Sean Taylor.
Taylor was only 24 when he was shot and killed by intruders in his Miami home on Nov. 26, 2007. He was protecting his girlfriend and their 18-month-old daughter when he was shot in the leg, and he died a day later from a severed femoral artery.
For many football fans, especially in Washington, it was an unbelievably tragic event.
Taylor, who was an exceptional player for the University of Miami and was a part of the Hurricanes’ 2001 national championship team, kept excelling as a player after being drafted fifth overall by the Redskins in 2004.
Despite his short career, he’s considered by many to be one of the greatest safeties of all time, perhaps second only to former Miami teammate Ed Reed. Few players in NFL history were able to combine Taylor’s ball-hawking coverage skills with the savagery of his linebacker-like hits.
Taylor made the play of the game in the last playoff win the Redskins have had this millennium, a wild scoop-and-score fumble return against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2005-2006 NFC wild-card game. Washington ultimately prevailed in the game by one touchdown, 17-10.
But for all of the incredible on-field plays Taylor made in his short four-year NFL career, it was the indelible impact he had on his teammates that still resonates 11 years later.
Take, for example, former Redskin and current Buffalo Bills team captain Lorenzo Alexander. In a video posted by Sports Spectrum in February, Alexander opened up about how Taylor’s untimely death helped spur him to find God.
It’s certainly not the first time NFL players have expressed their faith, but Alexander’s reasoning particularly resonates on the anniversary of Taylor’s death.
“I haven’t always been a believer. I gave my life over to Christ right when Sean Taylor passed, it was 2007,” Alexander told Sports Spectrum’s Jason Romano. “It really made me reflect on who I was, and I had some other guys, James Thrash, Antwan Randal-El, our team chaplain, Pastor Brett (Fuller). Before that time, I wasn’t seeking God at all. I had an emptiness in my heart; I didn’t know how to fill it. But because of those guys, I said, ‘Let me start seeking God.’ I came in contact with people who were living out the Christian faith and being evangelical about it and sharing it.”
“Once you find Christ and give your life to Him, now it’s about seeking him every single day,” he added. “Am I surrendering my life over to Him every single day? My will for His will.”
Taylor’s faith was an oft-cited reason for how he turned around a rough upbringing that included gang ties.
Christianity Today, citing an article by Adventist Review editor Mark Kellner, recounted how Taylor’s faith was shaping his young adult life.
“At the time of his murder, Sean Taylor was running (not with gangs), but with God’s crowd at the Perrine Seventh-day Adventist Church in Miami. (Taylor’s Pastor David) Peay believes he was making a run towards heaven — and away from his former ways,” Kellner wrote. “During a late-night conversation last October with Peay at an International House of Pancakes restaurant in College Park, Maryland, Taylor reaffirmed a decision he’d made earlier in 2007 to return to the Adventist Church and to the Lord.”
Perhaps most touchingly, Taylor told Peay one of the impetuses for his newfound faith.
“Pastor, I love going home to see my daughter. I’m not with all that other stuff anymore,” Taylor told Peay, according to Kellner.
Rest in peace, Sean Taylor. You and the impact you had on your teammates and those around you will never be forgotten.
- Bryan Chia