The first time Steven Rosenberg met Pedro “Pete” Taylor — on the field before a 2011 Redskins-Dolphins game — he asked whether Taylor knew how much Redskins fans still thought about his son. When Taylor hesitated, Rosenberg brought over a friend.
“He starts going bananas,” Rosenberg recalled. “He’s wearing an RIP Sean bracelet, saying you’re the father of my hero, throwing ’21s’ to the heavens, screaming and carrying on.”
Next, Rosenberg approached a stranger in a Taylor jersey, and brought that man, too, over to the player’s dad.
“The guy is going nuts, absolutely going crazy,” Rosenberg said.
He did this a third time, and then rested his case: that Redskins fans still care about the former safety more than just about any D.C. athlete.
That first conversation eventually led to a collaboration between Rosenberg and Taylor. Their self-published book, “Going Full Speed, the Sean Taylor Stories,” was officially announced on Thursday, a few hours before Taylor was to be inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame. The book is scheduled to be released next week, and will be supplemented with signings and appearances around the District and Virginia this spring and summer.
Why write this book, more than seven years after Sean Taylor’s tragic death?
“Sometimes you hear one side of a story, and sometimes it’s good to hear the other side,” Pete Taylor said this week. “This is a way to hear both sides. Read the book, and you’ll understand who he was.”
This project, of course, is not the first with that mission. Just last year, NFL Network aired a Taylor film; the producers told me their goal was to provide “a full picture of Sean’s life.”
And while Pete Taylor was quoted in that film, he’s the co-author of this project with Rosenberg, a former advertising and PR man with homes in both Northern Virginia and Florida. The book was crafted over nearly two years of meetings held in South Florida coffee shops and restaurants. There were also interviews with about 40 Taylor friends and associates, including Redskins owner Dan Snyder, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, former Washington teammates Santana Moss, Clinton Portis, Renaldo Wynn and Lorenzo Alexander, University of Miami figures like Larry Coker and Jonathan Vilma, and a host of family members.
The book includes both memories of Taylor as a child and stories from his playing days; it recounts his murder and the days following that tragedy, when Pete Taylor addressed the Redskins in Ashburn.
“Pete Taylor is the best producer I’ve worked with in my life,” Rosenberg said. “He’s got a Rolodex from here to the moon, and every single person we talked to said the same thing, almost identically: anything for Sean. Every one of them said the same thing. They all wanted to be part of it, they all wanted their stories told, nobody said no.”
The book, which runs more than 300 pages, also has also training tips and life lessons from Taylor, who told me he wanted to encourage readers “to reach out and try to do the best you can to be a part of a child’s life.”
Will Redskins fans be interested in this project? Almost assuredly. When Rosenberg and Taylor announced they were launching this project at an Alexandria restaurant in 2012, more than 100 fans came to the event. And when they offered 100 signed copies of their still-unfinished book for $55 during an online fundraiser, it took less than a week to sell out. Fans have been chattering about this on social media sites for months, and the fact that it’s self-published isn’t likely to discourage the diehards.
“The way I see it, Sean represented the Redskins of his era. And when he died so suddenly, he became much more than a player: he became a cult hero,” Rosenberg said. “We’re just talking about a really, really loyal fanbase, and they’re still in shock. They say they miss him every day.”
Pete Taylor said he doesn’t quite know why so many fans feel that way, and he said he has no idea how the book will be received. But he clearly knows that his son remains relevant in this market.
“I’m so appreciative of [Washington fans], of all the thoughts and all the prayers,” he said. “I always say that I’ll always be a Redskins supporter. They’ve got some of the biggest and most loyal fans out there. It’s like going to a college with so many great alumni, to find out the Redskins nation supports the Redskins the way they do.”
It’s a phenomenon that Rosenberg knows well. A few days before his first chance meeting with Taylor at that Dolphins game, Rosenberg took his then-high school-aged son to a Miami sporting goods store. After looking around, his son found something he couldn’t leave without: a University of Miami Sean Taylor jersey.
“Going Full Speed” is scheduled to be available on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com and AuthorHouse.com on April 16. Updates on book signings and appearances will be posted on this Facebook page.