Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the death of Sean Taylor. For so many fans of the University of Miami and the Washington Redskins it was a shock and a heartbreaking moment. For me personally, being a alumnus of Miami and having been there when Taylor was on the field and getting to see him play in person at the Orange Bowl was special. The reason that those felt so much emotion when Taylor passed away was because we felt the emotion that Taylor played the game with. There was a raw energy that Sean brought to the field every down of every game. He will be missed by fans because we lost one of the great football players of our generation, he will be missed by the Redskins because he was a friend and teammate, and most of all he will be missed by his daughter and the rest of his family.
There was a lot written and said about the murder by people who presumed to know exactly what transpired. Pretty much all of it was garbage and sports media figures sitting on high and dealing out the judgment. They are too many to name but the most egregious and reckless example was by Colin Cowherd. The complete breakdown on the ignorance of his statements were made in a great article from the DC Sports Bog last year and can be found here. The funny thing is how he is still unapologetic about it if it comes up, the man truly sets a new standard for douchebags.
The day after Taylor was killed I heard a local radio station discussing the incident. They were not too brash to be making the completely idiotic statements of others (which proved to be false by the way), but they were speaking with no knowledge on the subject and allowing a person who called himself a Miami fan to call in and give his thoughts. This so-called fan of Miami was also a Dallas Cowboys fan and is allegedly over 50 years old and still in college. Furthermore he lives in Sacramento so I have no idea why he calls into a show that is on in the southeastern region of the country and why the show allows him to call in. I decided to write into the show and share my thoughts. They were met with a terse thank you and three word response. That certainly rubbed me the wrong way but it is up to the host of the radio show what content drives his show and it is apparent that in this case it is not the intellectual or even factual side of sports. After the break, I have posted the email I wrote to the radio program. Below is the video tribute from FedEx field that was shown last year.
I listen to your show whenever I get the chance. Therefore after listening for a short time yesterday and receiving the news today of Taylor's passing, I feel compelled to write you my thoughts. I am a graduate of the University of Miami and was fortunate enough to be enrolled when the team won its 5th championship in 2001. Being a true green and orange Hurricane, it is often a difficult task to separate myself from loud-mouthed fans, ignorant sports fans, and people who either live through or thrive on the belief that the program exists to fulfill a macho thug-like purpose. Yes we all know the stories from the 80s and early 90s, I still have my Sports Illustrated with the cover of "Why the University of Miami should drop Football.", but having gone to the school, lived and worked for the community and the school itself, having gone to the archaic concrete monument that was the Orange Bowl, I can tell you there is a special connection with the U and its true fans. And it burns me that when I do listen early in the week often I hear the stuttering voice of one Stanley from Sacramento. It infuriates me to the limit of a rational person being angered by a voice on a radio. I doubt Stanley went to Miami since I hear jokes about his 8 semesters at Sac. St. and as I said true fans do not share his stupid, blunt, and absolutely idiotic comments when it comes to Miami. Nothing angers us more than to hear people like him give us a bad name. We know we will never be liked, and judgments will be made, but we believe what our current coach Randy Shannon believes; that victories and passionate play on the field can occur without a reliance on unacceptable behavior and disrespectful attitudes. The U will never shed its image, but strides have been made. Miami became a poster child for college programs of this era, Florida St. and Nebraska among others had just as many disingenuous characters and reprehensible behaviors as we did. But to be a 'Cane fan is to accept the brunt of this criticism.
Miami is actually an academic institution of great note. The very treatment given to former Hurricane Kevin Everett shortly after his catastrophic injury in Buffalo was a result of the Miami Project to cure paralysis developed at the University. As a result Everett will walk again one day after doctors thought initially he was going to be confined to a chair for life. We are not a large public institution, we are not a Florida where we open the flood gates every August and allow the cattle to usher forth and then receive their degree and then create generations upon generations of fans through sheer numbers. Instead we are a small community just as passionate about our team as anyone if not as high in head count.
The fraternity of former players of the U is one I am not a part of but has big appeal for kids coming to the school, and makes them a part of a family they keep in close contact with. Former players from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Edge James, Clinton Portis, Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp and countless others are always seen on-campus and at games supporting the program. Many of these players come from the troubled communities of South Florida. Their struggles and success though the game of football unite them and keep them forever linked in life and so sadly, their death. Randy Shannon is one story of success out of these dark places, and therefore I think is the best leader the program could have. Yes their have been personal foul flags, brawls, and some run-ins with the law, but their have been so many more degrees earned, careers launched, and brotherhoods formed in the process.
Sean Taylor was an electric player on the field, who while at UM, never got into trouble, but afterwards in the NFL had some off-field trouble and committed a horrid penalty in a play-off game. He was quiet when it came to the media so little is known about his candor. By most accounts, after the birth of his daughter he began to change his ways and it is so senseless how his opportunity to do so is cut short. No matter his troubles he did not deserve this. Many details and theories and social commentaries will come out following this event, but I want you to know that the Hurricane family is hurting today and will be for awhile. Just after Brian Pada, Chris Campbell, Al Blades, and all the others we were hurting. But Taylor was headed for a transcendent career on the field and hopefully what would have been a tranformation off it. He was a symbol of the U and of how the twisted athletic priorites of our society can rescue a child that that very society abuses. I never had a conversation with Sean but I feel like I lost someone close.
As I get closer to earning my masters in Sports Studies and heading out for a career in sports media, administration, or otherwise I take stock of the important role sports play in our society and the folly we sometimes run into in letting our passion blind us to reason. I felt obligated to share my thoughts with you on this subject as you can see it is close to my heart and would like to you to pass a message to Stanley and people like him the next time he comes on your show: 'You do not represent the true spirit of Hurricane football, you are a glorified bafoon of an extreme attitude you believe to be courageous'. Please hang up on that jackass the next time he wants to stutter on about what the 'Canes should do. Yes our football team has been downright awful the last couple years and those of us wiser than others have kept quiet and are preaching patience. His loud mouth antics spit in the face of what our program has been and what it can be in the future. Again I am profoundly saddened today but know the Hurricane family will weather the storm.