How to Write About Sean Taylor's Life (Having Met Him Once...)
Sean Taylor passed away on November 27th at the age of 24. Within minutes, just about every credible sports periodical in America was able to publish some sort of eulogy or memorial piece that shed light on the man's personal life.
The following is a brief play, in one act, that recounts what may have happened during those pivotal moments immediately following Sean's passing.
Managing Editor: "Shannon, get in here quick!"
Shannon: "Yes, sir... what is it?"
Managing Editor: "I need you to get online and run through our archives. You know that defensive back, Sean Tyler? I just found out that he's dead. The story broke about four minutes ago."
Shannon: "You mean, Sean Taylor?"
Managing Editor: "That's the one. He's dead. I need you to figure out which of our guys has interviewed him in the past. We need someone to write a eulogy of sorts, and I'd rather it be someone who knew the kid well."
Shannon: "Alright, well let me sift through our archives to see who's written about him in the past... James interviewed him after the Draft, but that doesn't do us any good, since he's no longer with our company. It looks like Eddie went to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl and spoke with him briefly in between Peyton Manning and LT."
Managing Editor: "Perfect! Go in the other room and tell Eddie that I need to speak with him immediately."
Shannon: "Yes, sir... I'll be back in a second."
(Two Minutes Later)
Eddie: "Hey, Shannon just told me that you wanted to talk."
Managing Editor: "Sure do. You've probably heard about Sean Taylor..."
Eddie: "Yeah, I just heard that he died. What a terrible tragedy."
Managing Editor: "It sure is. And we need you to write about his life. This is going to be a cover story, so we're going to need you to give us a few thousand words."
Eddie: "Well, what am I supposed to write exactly?"
Managing Editor: "You need to sum up his entire existence. This kid sounds like something out of a Shakespearian drama. All the talent in the world, didn't want to play by the rules, finally has a child, then gets his act together... ultimately, he's shot by a fellow gang member."
Eddie: "Do we know that it was gang-related? I hadn't heard that."
Managing Editor: "Well, we don't know for sure. Just a guess. Don't quote me on that. Since you knew him best, what can you tell me about his life? What sorts of questions did you ask him when the two of you met at the Pro Bowl?"
Eddie: "Well, I asked him how he liked the weather in Hawaii..."
Managing Editor: "And..."
Eddie: "He said that he lives in Florida, and so it wasn't much of a change."
Managing Editor: "Did he say it with a serious and solemn voice... like someone who's lived through a lot and has the scars to prove it?"
Eddie: "Not really."
Managing Editor: "What about the game itself? What did he say about the Pro Bowl?"
Eddie: "Well, I asked him if he's ever gone up against a quarterback as tough as Manning. I had just inteviewed Peyton beforehand."
Managing Editor: "Was his response intense? Did he liken Peyton to a super villain of uncompromising proportions? Did he speak of him as though he were a rival Bloods leader, ready to throw down at any moment and go haywire?"
Eddie: "No, he said that Peyton was a great athlete, and he had a lot of respect for him."
Managing Editor: "Respect, as in 'I am the Godfather. You better respect me'..."
Eddie: "No, I think that he admired Peyton's athletic abilities."
Managing Editor: "Hmmm... and what about his son?"
Eddie: "What about his son?"
Managing Editor: "Did he say anything about how his son was his inspiration? Did he dedicate the game to his son? The baby changed his life... I think it was a son..."
Eddie: "Geeze... I don't know if he even had a kid at the time. I don't normally ask players how their kids are doing. My due diligence was really focused on a piece that I was writing about Tom Brady."
Managing Editor: "Well, how long did you speak with Sean in total?"
Eddie: "About six or seven minutes. He was just heading out of the hotel."
Managing Editor: "Alright. Understood. Anyhow, I still need you to put together a retrospect on his life. Try to get inside his head and really look at things from his perspective... you knew him better than anyone else on our staff, so you're the guy to do this."
Eddie: "I'll give it my best shot."
Managing Editor: "Great. Try to put yourself in his shoes. Talk about what it must have been like to grow up in a ghetto and play ball in the inner city."
Eddie: "Didn't he go to prep school?"
Managing Editor: "I don't know, look it up."
Eddie: "Sounds good. I'll have that story to you by lunch."
Managing Editor: "Keep up the good work."
Eddie: "Take care."
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