The Washington Football Team (WFT) is honoring late NFL player Sean Taylor by retiring his jersey in a ceremony taking place during the Oct. 17 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Taylor’s life was tragically cut short while attempting to protect his family during a home invasion in 2007. According to the team’s press release, this will mark the third time WFT has retired a former player’s jersey in the team’s 89-year history.
The Washington Football Team announced they will retire Sean Taylor’s No. 21 during Sunday’s game against the Chiefs. pic.twitter.com/wg1HfWfTCs
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 14, 2021
WFT will also be joined by Taylor’s family members for a renaming ceremony outside of the stadium. The road leading to FedExField will soon be called Sean Taylor Road.
Taylor joined the NFL as the fifth overall pick and the Washington Football Team’s first pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. He played with WFT for all four years of his NFL career. In his sophomore year, the young safety started in 15 games through the season, eventually taking the team to its first playoff win after a six-year drought.
Shortly after his death, the NFL paid tribute to the deceased player and named him the 2nd team All-Pro selection in 2007. WFT inducted him into the Washington Ring of Fame in 2008.
“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 Football Team’s 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,” he added.
Soon after making the announcement that Taylor’s jersey would be retired, the WFT president released a follow-up statement apologizing for the short notice of the event. Since the news comes amid a troubling time for the team as an organization, some are calling the move a “PR stunt,” per Yahoo! News. The WFT launched a workplace misconduct investigation after emails between ex-team president Bruce Allen and former Raiders coach Jon Gruden surfaced.
Wright responded to the criticism, saying that he felt alumni weekend would be the best time to honor the fallen player, but says the organization could’ve done a better job to make sure more fans could attend the ceremony.
“What we wanted to do was make good on something we know was long overdue,” he wrote in the letter. “We planned to do this right… but we screwed up the execution and, as a result, we realize that we hurt many of our fans deeply. And for that I and we as an organization are sorry.”
“We didn’t realize that so many of you wanted to make a trip to FedExField to be present for this moment — a true lack of understanding of what you, the lifeblood of this franchise, needed to mourn our collective loss and celebrate Sean’s legacy,” Wright said.