On February 10, 2007, the AFC decided to go for a fake punt on fourth and seven. Punter Brian Moorman attempted to run for the first down but before he could get there “Meast” hit him. Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was nicknamed “meast” by his teammates in reference to Taylor being half-man, half-beast. Taylor ran from about 30 yards away to lay a devastating hit on Moorman. A decade after his death Sean Taylor’s influence lives on.
Current Redskins safety DJ Swearinger wears number 36 in honor of Taylor who wore the number during his rookie year in 2004. Before every game, Swearinger gets amped up by watching a highlight video of Taylor.
“Something about him (was) different; it stuck with me ’til now,” said Swearinger according to The Washington Post. “He was the GOAT (greatest of all time) when he was playing. That dominant force that he played with was unmatched. Still unmatched. I’m trying to get there myself.”
Taylor’s influence goes far beyond the Redskins locker room. Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, who is part of the “Legion of Boom”, is still learning from the way Taylor played the game.
“Before every game I’ve got to watch him,” Chancellor said in 2014 via Seahawks.com. “It just puts more aggression into me, man. Just like, ‘Boom’ – this is what I’ve got to do. I watch it and say, ‘This is what I’ve got to do every game.’”
“He’s still with me forever,” Chancellor went onto say reflecting on his connection to Taylor. “He’s with me in the game, on my shoulder every week.”
In 2015 Chancellor posted a picture on Instagram in honor of Taylor.
What if we seen more??… Can't say it enough. One of the most exciting safeties to watch in the Game. I will continue to say this and continue to keep his legacy alive. Big safeties were rare, now their in high demand. Game changer, Punisher, Soul taker. Another year later time to get better. #Happy BirthDay🎉🎉 #SeanTaylor #BigSafeties💪💪 #Intensity #LovedTheGame #Respect #Aries #RIP#21#31 🙏🙏🙏
Former NFL safety and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick said today on ESPN that Taylor “would’ve been one of the greatest of all time.”
Unfortunately, Eric Rivera, Jr murdered Sean Taylor in November 2007. Taylor was shot in his own home protecting his girlfriend and young daughter. Rivera was sentenced to 57 years in prison in 2014. The other men who were with Rivera during the burglary gone wrong were sent to prison as well. While Taylor’s family got justice it will never bring back the man that they loved.
Taylor’s death hit Santana Moss and Clinton Portis the hardest. Both were key members of the Redskins team in 2007 and Moss, Portis and Taylor all attended the University of Miami. Moss and Portis honored Taylor’s memory by helping the Redskins win their final four games in 2007 to make the playoffs.
Portis is making sure that Taylor’s legacy rubs off on his two sons. Portis shared an Instagram photo in 2015 of his two sons. They know that Taylor was the best to ever do it.
Taylor’s memory lives on in NFL coaches as well. Jerry Gray, the Vikings defensive backs coach, held the same position with the Redskins in 2006.
“The hit when he hit the punter at the Pro Bowl, they remember that hit,” Gray said according to NFL.com. “But that same year, he dropped three interceptions in Green Bay. He got two. It was the most amazing thing. It was symbolic of how he could play with opponents so easily.”
Taylor’s two interceptions off of Packers quarterback Brett Favre made Favre the all-time leader in interceptions.
Vince Wilfork, a teammate of Sean Taylor at Miami, revealed this story during his time with the Patriots. According to Wilfork Taylor’s presence got the attention of the Patriot’s locker room (via NFL.com):
I remember sitting in meetings, and Bill Belichick was showing highlights. He told Tom Brady, ‘Let me tell you something, if you lob a ball up, he will find it. If you don’t believe me, watch this play.’ He put on a play, and Sean was on one side of the ball, the quarterback threw to the other side, and he tracked the ball from one side of the field to the other. You could just hear in the meeting room, people were like, ‘Oh my God.’ I thought right then and there everybody on my team saw what type of player he was.
Sean Taylor’s influence lives on today. Former Alabama safety Landon Collins revealed in the buildup to the 2015 NFL Draft that he cried when he found out Taylor was dead.
“I idolized Sean Taylor for his physical play, his passion for the game, you could see it every time he touched the field,” said Collins according to NFL.com. “… and I like being physical in the box.”
“I’ve watched youtubes on him,” Collins went onto say. “I’ve watched everything — hour-long videos on him, I watched a 30 for 30.”
Collins now with the New York Giants is one of the best young safeties in the NFL.
Sean Taylor may be gone but he will never be forgotten. Certain players remind you of Taylor such as Chancellor who hits hard like Taylor did but does not have the same type of athleticism. Taylor’s legacy lives on in players such as Collins who wears the number 21, the same number Taylor wore during his final few years with the Redskins.
“I feel like I’m wearing his armor,” says Collins (according to the NY Daily News), who also wore No. 26 at Alabama because Taylor wore No. 26 at Miami. “I always watched his film before I played a game.”