Tuesday, November 27, 2007

21 is not just a number

Like a lot of sports fans, the only exposure I’ve ever had to Sean Taylor was watching him in pads and helmet, wearing his number '21' jersey and wreaking havoc on a gridiron. In the early morning hours on Tuesday, Taylor passed away from a gunshot wound suffered at his suburban Miami home on Monday.

Pads and a helmet often disguise the fact that these are flesh and blood people with families – Taylor was allegedly assaulted when he was investigating an intrusion into his home that he shared with his fiancée and baby daughter. For his immediate family and the extended family that is his collection of Redskin teammates, it is an unimaginable shock – that someone with the physical gifts Taylor possessed could be taken from their midst in the blink of an eye.

It is cliché to note that events like this put “sports” in their proper perspective, but there is truth, even in clichés. For families, friends, and fans alike, the clock will stop on the games, but only for a time. Taylor will be remembered, families and friends will grieve, and commentators will try to express “the meaning of it all.”

Maybe it has no larger meaning. Maybe it is what it is – a senseless, but all-too-common tragedy. A young man who lived in a city with a streak of violent characters, with his own brushes with the law and violence in his past, forfeiting his life because he couldn’t get far enough or fast enough away from that environment. Teammate Clinton Portis remarked, "It's hard to expect a man to grow up overnight. But ever since he had this child it was like a new Sean. And everybody around here knew it. He was always smiling, always happy, always talking about his child."

The irony here is that Taylor, who played a sport defined by a clock, ran out of time before he could finish growing up to enjoy life with his fiancée and daughter.

That’s the tragedy.

Photo: John McDonnell - The Washington Post

1 comment:

CapitalPunishment said...

RIP Sean Taylor.