As I sat down to write another article for my "Where are they now" series, all I can do is reminisce on the legacy of Sean Taylor.
The title of my series didn't fit, so I decided to change it a bit because everyone already knows what happened to Taylor on November 26, 2007 at his Miami home.
Trying to protect his 18-month-old daughter and his girlfriend, Taylor was shot in the leg by an intruder at his bedroom door.
He died one day later.
I really don't need to go into detail on what exactly happened those two days, because this article is about his life, not his death.
His passion for football started in Miami while playing both sides of the ball for Gulliver Preparatory School. He led his team to victory in the 2000 Florida Class 2A State Championship playing both running back and safety.
In 2001, Taylor stayed home choosing the Miami Hurricanes as his college of choice.
In his freshman season, he was the backup to two-time All-American Ed Reed. Taylor ended his freshman season with 26 tackles in nine games.
After Reed graduated, Taylor got the opportunity to show off his skills and he did not disappoint.
In his first season as a starter, Taylor had 85 tackles (fourth on team), four tackles for loss, one forced fumble and four interceptions. He also blocked a kick and returned a punt for a touchdown.
Following his sophomore campaign, Taylor was voted on to the All-Big East team.
He started his junior campaign as a Playboy All-American with a spot on the preseason All-American list. He ended the season with 77 total tackles and 10 interceptions (tied for first in the nation).
Taylor had such a successful junior season and ended up a Jim Thorpe finalist (best defensive back in the country), on the first team All-Big East. He was voted a consensus first team All-American.
He would decide to forgo his senior year and head to the 2004 NFL draft, where he was picked up by the Washington Redskins in the first round (fifth player overall). Taylor became the starter in the third game of the season and ended his rookie campaign with 89 tackles, two forced fumbles, one sack, four interceptions and nine pass breakups.
Taylor would go on to play two-and-a-half more seasons for the Redskins before his untimely death in 2007. He ended his NFL career with just 55 games played—recording 299 tackles, two sacks, 34 pass defends, eight forced fumbles and 12 interceptions.
He was honored throughout his short NFL career by being voted into two Pro Bowls (2006 and 2007), and was voted to the 2007 All-Pro team.
In the 2007 Pro Bowl bid, Taylor was posthumously voted and became the first NFL player in history to be selected in such a manner. He was second in the NFL in interceptions before his death. He was also just the 42nd player in Redskins' history to be entered in their Ring of Fame.
Overall, Taylor's stats do not represent the type of player he truly was. I know a lot of times people will say that stats show the story of how great a player was, but in this case, it doesn't even scratch the surface.
Watching the game footage of Taylor will help explain why he was not only a great player, but a future Hall of Famer.
Here was a man who was 6'3", 230 pounds, ran like a deer and hit like a truck. He was so well known for his hard hits that almost every publication across the country named him the hardest hitter in the NFL.
He was exactly what his teammates called him at Washington, a "Meast"—half man, half beast.
I have seen them all—John Lynch, Steve Atwater, Chuck Cecil, etc.—but none of hit like Taylor because of his rare combination of size and speed. Taylor officially ran a 4.51 at the NFL combine, but had also been clocked around the 4.4 range, which is insane for a guy his size.
It's impossible to express how much I used to love watching Taylor play. I would DVR every Redskins game.
Believe it or not, but I had a man-crush. Who wouldn't? Name another player that played as hard as Taylor did, even in a Pro Bowl game where it was supposed to be just about having fun.
Don't believe me? Ask Pro Bowl punter Brian Moorman.
Taylor never took plays off and he never slowed down. He didn't even know what that meant. He also stayed away from cameras and interviews and let his play on the field speak for itself.
To this day, I still envision Taylor out on the football field. I can feel the thundering hits from my couch.
Taylor was not only my favorite Hurricane, but my favorite football player, period.
I miss him, but I am glad that I was able to witness such tremendous talent—something I may never see again on the football field.
Rest in peace Sean Taylor.