Sean Taylor

NFL Network will feature the Redskins’ Sean Taylor in ‘A Football Life’ series

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Former Redskins safety Sean Taylor, who died in 2007 after being shot by intruders at his Miami area home, will be featured in NFL Network’s “A Football Life” documentary series this fall, a network spokesman confirmed. The hour-long program about Taylor is tentatively scheduled to air on Sept. 26; the network typically follows up such documentaries with additional programming, including further interviews and discussion.

This is the third straight year the series will include a prominent former Redskins star. In 2012, the network aired a John Riggins documentary, and last year’s topics included former tight end Jerry Smith.

The series, a production of NFL Films, “examines the untold stories of the most influential NFL icons with unprecedented access,” the network says in its promotional materials. “Each film tells the story of how their legacy is forever intertwined in the fabric of NFL history.”

Fans began speculating about a Taylor documentary in recent days, after NFL Network started airing “A Football Life” promos that included famous footage of the safety leaping into the end zone.

Taylor, of course, remains beloved in Washington, with fans frequently wearing his jersey and otherwise celebrating his career. The return of Ryan Clark this season has also meant more stories about Taylor, with Clark wearing Taylor’s No. 21 jersey during practice, as he has for years.

“People in Pittsburgh knew about it, and if you hear a fan ask me why I had a different number on, people who were there, who were at camp a lot, would explain to them, ‘Well, Sean Taylor, he was his friend, he played for Washington,’ ” Clark told reporters during training camp. “And so it always made people talk about him, it always struck up conversation about the player he was, about the man he was becoming. And so that’s exciting.

“Wearing it here is difficult,” Clark said. “There are some fans who never met Sean who say I shouldn’t wear it to practice. But I understand. That’s why they call them fans; they’re fanatics and they’re not always right in certain situations, so I don’t mind that. I just try to wear it and honor him. I know I’m not the player he was or the athlete he was, but he was my friend and I want people to remember him.”

Clark also often wears towels that pay homage to Taylor’s name and number.

“I’ve done it since he passed,”  Clark said. “I know a lot of people may think it’s something new that I do now because I’m a part of the Redskins organization, but nah, this is for me. And this is an opportunity for me to remember a friend, an opportunity to get other people to remember a friend, and that’s why I do it. I’ve got about seven of these towels actually, different colors, and it’s part of me. I made a vow that as long as I was playing, he’d be playing somewhere, too.”


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(washintgonpost.com)
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Second man convicted of murder in Sean Taylor killing

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MIAMI — A Florida jury has convicted a man prosecutors called the ringleader of a botched 2007 Miami-area burglary that ended with the fatal shooting of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor.

The 12-person jury deliberated nearly four hours Tuesday before finding 25-year-old Jason Mitchell guilty of first-degree felony murder and armed burglary. Trial testimony indicated that Mitchell hatched the plot for five Fort Myers-area men to burglarize Taylor’s home near Miami after previously seeing large amounts of cash there.

The judge immediately imposed the mandatory life sentence for murder, plus 40 more years for the burglary conviction.

The man who authorities say fired the fatal shot, Eric Rivera Jr., was convicted last fall of second-degree murder and sentenced to 57 years behind bars.
Two other men await trial. A third has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary.


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(washingtontimes.com)
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Sean Taylor’s Cousin Learned From His Passion, Work Ethic

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Sean Taylor was one of the fastest rising stars in the NFL during his four-year career with the Washington Redskins. The safety garnished a reputation as being one the hardest hitting safeties in league history before his life was tragically cut short nearly seven years ago. While he may no longer be with us, his exploits continue to be reminisced by Redskins Nation and his family. Wide receiver Santana Moss pays homage to his college and professional teammate each game and you can still see numerous No. 21 jerseys in the stands at FedExField on Sundays. In the fifth round of the NFL Draft this past May, Taylor’s cousin, Keith Reaser, was selected by the San Francisco 49ers. Taylor’s style of play still has a profound impact on Reaser both on and off the field. As explained in an article by ESPN’s Bill Williamson, Reaser said he watched every game of Taylor’s and that the two would train together where the two-time Pro Bowler played a mentor role.

“I watched every game he ever played,” Reaser said, “from him being at Miami in college to the NFL. We used to run and train together. What I learned most from him was his passion and work ethic. He taught me that, and I will never forget it.”

Reaser was joined by his family on Sundays in front of the television or somewhere in the stadium Taylor was playing in and said that him just playing professional football was a bonding experience. When they received news that he had been shot and passed shortly after, Reaser said it was a “tough time” on the family. At the time, he was only 16-years-old.

“He was our focal point. So much was about Sean. For it to happen like that and being in the spotlight, it was very difficult to handle.”

Now, seven years after Taylor’s death, Reaser is trying to make a similar impact to Taylor when he caused opposing players to fear lining up in his path.

“He would have been the best safety ever to play,” Reaser said of Taylor. “I want to make his memory proud.”


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(redskins.com)
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Trial begins for second suspect in Sean Taylor's murder

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MIAMI (AP) - Trial has begun in South Florida for a second man accused of taking part in a botched 2007 burglary that ended with the fatal shooting of Washington Redskins star safety Sean Taylor.

Opening statements were set for Tuesday for 25-year-old Jason Mitchell, one of five men from the Fort Myers area charged with murder in the case. The alleged shooter, Eric Rivera Jr., was convicted last fall of second-degree murder and sentenced to 57 years behind bars.

Evidence in Rivera's trial showed Taylor was fatally shot after confronting the would-be burglars in his home. Investigators say the group thought Taylor was out of town.

Two other men await trial. One has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary.

Taylor was Pro Bowl safety who also starred at the University of Miami.


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(wjla.com)
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Redskins safety Ryan Clark honors Sean Taylor's memory

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Redskins safety Ryan Clark will wear jersey No. 25 on Sundays. But he’ll wear No. 21 the rest of the week to, in his words, keep alive the memory of the late Sean Taylor.

“I like starting the conversation,” Clark said this week. “It’s a good reminder for me, which I really don’t need, because I think of him every day.”

Clark played with Taylor in 2004 and 2005, making 22 starts alongside him during their time together in the Redskins’ secondary. The two developed a tight bond on and off the field.

After Taylor died from a gunshot wound he suffered during a home invasion in 2007, Clark, then a member of the Steelers, began wearing Taylor’s No. 21 to practice in Pittsburgh. He decided to continue honoring his good friend upon returning to Washington this offseason—but only after receiving permission from, Jackie, Taylor's longtime girlfriend and mother of his daughter, and team owner Dan Snyder.

“It starts conversations,” Clark continued. “People ask me why do you wear it? And how you feel about wearing it? So I get to talk about Sean and then it starts more conversations about him. It’s my way of keeping his name in the consciousness. It’s my way of making people have reason to talk about him.”

In practice, Taylor also wears a black and gold towel that hangs from his waist. The towel is emblazoned with Taylor’s nickname and jersey number.

“I got it the year he passed and I just kept it,” Clark said. “Since we do have gold in our colors, I can wear it until I can get a new one. It’s something that matters to me.”


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(csnwashington.com)
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Jury Selection Underway For Sean Taylor Murder Suspect

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Jury selection got underway Tuesday for Jason Mitchell, the man accused of taking part in a 2007 burglary which led to the murder of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor in his South Florida home.

Mitchell, along with suspects Charles Wardlow and Timothy Brown, are all charged with first-degree murder and face possible life in prison.

The three are accused of taking part in the burglary along with the convicted shooter, Eric Rivera Jr., and a fifth man who pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors said they tried to burglarize the Pro Bowl player’s house in an effort to make off with tens of thousands of dollars in cash they believed they would find there.

The group also mistakenly believed that no one would be home, because Taylor had a football game that Thanksgiving weekend. An injury, however, kept him away from the game.

Rivera was sentenced to 57 years in prison after he was convicted at trial of second-degree murder and armed burglary, although he denied shooting Taylor.
Taylor was an all-pro safety with the Redskins who also starred at the University of Miami.


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(cbs4.com)
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Ryan Clark plans to wear Sean Taylor’s No. 21 in practice

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Last Wednesday, newly signed Redskins safety Ryan Clark posed a question on Twitter.

@Realrclark25: “Redskins fans I've worn #21 to practice for 6 years now. Would it be disrespectful to wear it in Washington?”

The reaction from fans was mixed, while former teammate Clinton Portis seemed to indicate that he’d prefer the late Sean Taylor’s number remain off limits, even in practice.

Clinton Portis, @TheRealC_Portis: “ @Lizzs_Lockeroom @Realrclark25 one of my favorite players & has a lot of respect for ST21 but no need to give a glimpse of hope let 21RIP

During an appearance on 106.7 The Fan’s LaVar and Dukes show later that day, Clark explained his close relationship with Taylor, with whom he played for two seasons in Washington.

“The day that Sean passed, I had just got out of the hospital, battling for my life,” Clark said, referring to the emergency operation he underwent after the combination of his carrying the sickle-cell trait and playing in the high altitude of Denver deprived his major organs of oxygen. “The day I got the opportunity to fly down for the funeral, I had just gotten the tubes taken out of my side in order for me to get on the plane. So that’s what he means to me.”

Clark, who signed with the Steelers as a free agent in 2006, began wearing No. 21 in practice to honor Taylor in 2008 after the NFL denied his request to change his number from 25.

“Every time somebody asks me why I wear a different number to practice, I get to tell Sean’s story,” Clark continued. “I get to tell people about the guy I love. I get to tell people about the guy who was possibly on his way to being the greatest safety to ever play the game. And that got cut short. He never got to realize his full potential. But it gives me the opportunity to remind people of him. And maybe people in Washington don’t need that. Maybe that’s the thing.”

Clark, who will wear No. 25 in games, said he would have tried to switch to No. 21 if he signed with any team but the Redskins. A few days later, he tweeted that he received the go-ahead to wear No. 21 in practice from Jackie Garcia Haley, the mother of Taylor’s daughter.

@Realrclark25:” Spoke to Jackie whom was engaged to Sean before he passed and she gave her blessing to wear #21 to practice. All I needed!!”


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(washingtonpost.com)
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Ryan Clark Considers Wearing No. 21 in Practice in Tribute to Sean Taylor

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - Redskins safety Ryan Clark, who signed on to return to the organization after 9 years of playing elsewhere, questioned on Twitter Wednesday, the appropriateness of him wearing Sean Taylor’s jersey number upon his return to D.C.

Clark mentioned he’d been wearing No. 21 in Pittsburgh, but only in practice (he wore No. 25 in games), for the last six seasons in tribute to his former Redskins teammate.

“@Realrclark25 Redskins fans I've worn #21 to practice for 6 years now. Would it be disrespectful to wear it in Washington”

Perhaps it was what would have been Taylor’s 31st birthday fresh in their minds, but the reaction Clark received ranged from visceral outrage to non-aggressive pushback from Redskins fans who think wearing Taylor’s number would be disrespectful of Clark, even if only in practice.

It’s worth noting, some fans were accepting of the idea.

However, in an interview with 106.7 The Fan’s Lavar Arrington and Chad Dukes, Clark decided to further clarify he only wishes to continue wearing the number in practice, and has no intentions of wearing No. 21 during Redskins games. He also seems to be going about it in all the right ways, asking the fans and team officials.

“They were just like ‘nobody should ever wear it,’ and ‘it should be retired,’ and it should be this and that,” Clark explained the resistance he was subject to. “And I understand those things. That’s why I would never ask to wear it in-game.”

“Even after this, I would have to ask Mr. Snyder, could I even wear it to practice, which is something I had planned on doing,” he said. “I talked about it today, inside the building, and they said I had to go get permission to do it.”

“More than likely, had I went to any other team, I was going to try to wear 21 anyway, or at least try,” he said. “I was actually going to try to wear it in the game. I was going to leave 25 where it was and try to wear 21, and so that was my plan, but I ended up coming to a place where I felt like that wouldn’t be cool.”
“It just shows the passion they have,” he said of those unruly fans.

Lavar, also a former teammate of Clark and Taylor — and one who is generally impassioned regarding issues of his late friend — took umbrage with those fans giving Clark grief about wearing No. 21, taking the stance that if anyone was qualified to do it, it was Clark.

Another of their former teammates, Fred Smoot, also agreed that if anyone could wear No. 21 in D.C., it would be Clark, but stopped short of defending Clark’s right to do so.

“I probably would have a problem with it, because sometimes I just think you should leave things alone,” Smoot told Lavar and Dukes. “I think it’s one of those subjects where you leave this alone.

“I think [Taylor's] the greatest 21 to ever put on a uniform as a Washington Redskins, and you can go to the games today and it’s still packed with 21s with ‘Taylor’ on the back, and I think we should just let it stay like that.”


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(cbslocal.com)
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VIDEO: Trip into Sean Taylor memories

So today I traveled down a Sean Taylor YouTube binge-watching rabbit hole, and it was glorious. But it got me thinking about all that this Redskins team really lacks.

Here's a LONG (30-minute) video that will make you miss the guy. Just watch a play or two and you'll miss him. Instantly.




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Hearing for 3 suspects in Sean Taylor slaying

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MIAMI — Trial dates could be set for three remaining suspects in the 2007 slaying of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor, who was fatally shot during a burglary at his South Florida home.

A judge set a Thursday hearing for 26-year-old Jason Mitchell, 24-year-old Charles Wardlow and 22-year-old Timothy Brown. They are each charged with first-degree murder and face possible life in prison.

The three are accused of taking part in the burglary along with the alleged shooter, 23-year-old Eric Rivera Jr., and a fifth man who pleaded guilty. Rivera was sentenced last month to 57 years in prison after he was convicted at trial of second-degree murder and armed burglary, although he denied shooting Taylor.

Taylor was an all-pro safety with the Redskins who also starred at the University of Miami.


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(kansascity.com)
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Sean Taylor’s Father Becomes Pro Coach

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There’s something very fitting about this story.

Last week, it was announced that the Ultimate Indoor Football League would be returning to Miami, Fla. under the direction of Pedro “Pete” Taylor, father of the late, great Sean Taylor.

Fittingly, games will be played on the campus of the University of Miami at the BankUnited Center, the indoor arena currently used primarily for basketball games and other assorted concerts, wrestling matches, etc. (Noted Redskins superfan Wale will also be playing “Lovefest Miami 2014″ there on Valentine’s Day…so y’know…there is that).

For those of you unfamiliar with the UIFL, here are the specs: the field is 50 x 28 yards of indoor, artificial turf; the end zones must be five-eight yards deep and may have rounded corners to allow for hockey rink usage; walls must be at least four feet tall and padded, goal posts must be 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide with 20-feet uprights.

The games are four 15-minute quarters with a 15-minute halftime, similar to the NFL and NCAA. The game is eight-on-eight with 19 gameday actives for each team with five inactives. Two players may be in forward motion at any given time, with only three defensive linemen and one free blitzer allowed. No punts, no fakes on special teams, no touchbacks, and a point is awarded if the kickoff goes through the opposing uprights.

That’s the basic rundown of the sport, with a few other creative twists and turns that really put the “Ultimate” in the UIFL.

It should also be noted that Pedro Taylor is also the chief of police in nearby Florida City, so fans can expect players to be on their best behavior. Here is what Coach Taylor had to say at his introductory press conference:

“I am excited at the opportunity to bring indoor football to the Miami area. I am looking forward to working with my staff to find the best possible talent we can find from this football rich area in hopes of bringing the UIFL Championship to Miami.”

An interesting note: former Arena Football League defensive lineman Luther Johnson IV will join Taylor’s coachign staff as the defensive coordinator. Why should we care? Because from 1991-1992, Johnson IV squared off against Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden (of the Tampa Bay Storm) as a member of the Columbus Thunderbolts and Cleveland Thunderbolts.

For the record, Gruden torched both iterations of the Thunderbolts, winning 53-12 and 35-24, respectively. I told you this story was fitting.

But, two losses at the hand of Jay Gruden notwithstanding, Coach Taylor maintains confidence in Luther Johnson IV to slow down the high-flying passing attacks of the UIFL.

“I feel Coach Johnson will be able to guide the defense and teach the players the ins and outs of indoor football. He will be able pass on the knowledge he has gained from his time playing the game.”

Now, the real kicker for fans is that you can buy $75 season tickets to watch the Miami Inferno play, or you can quickly get yourself in shape and go tryout to be part of the team in 15 days. The three open tryout dates for you to realize your dream of playing professional indoor football are on Feb. 22, March 8 and March 22.

Best of luck to everyone who tries out, and may Coach Taylor bring the UIFL Championship to Miami. Redskins Nation will be watching.


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(blog.redskins.com)
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Sean Taylor's Pro Bowl hit resonates loudly with Seahawks' biggest hitter

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Most pregame rituals are more or less the same: music and meditation. Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor's routine is a little different. It's a window into who he wants to be as a player, and a part of NFL lore that's been sadly lost.

Before every game, the Seahawks cornerback watches videos of the late Sean Taylor.

"The passion he showed," Chancellor said here Wednesday. "You can tell by the way he played. I wish I could have met him."

Taylor was a rare power player in the secondary – a 6-foot-2, 212-pound hitting machine at the University of Miami and then with the Washington Redskins. His hit on Buffalo punter Brian Moorman in 2007 is one of the most memorable plays in Pro Bowl history.

"He was the best athlete I ever came across in football," said former Redskin Chris Cooley.  "He was also one of the most intelligent. The way he studied -- he would stay after practice to get in reps with the scout team."

Taylor was slain in his home by burglars in 2007 at age 24, and players and coaches still speak of him with reverence. There was a lot to remember about Taylor, and a lot to emulate. Chancellor is trying to do both.

"I've seen everything of his on YouTube," Chancellor said. "I got two or three full games from the Seahawks on iPad."

Chancellor is about as close as it gets to Taylor in today's NFL. Like Taylor, he's huge for the safety position (6-3, 232 pounds) and he might be the most feared hitter in the league – just like Taylor, who was named one of the game's hardest-hitting player by Sports Illustrated in 2007, the year he died. "I've modeled my game after him," Chancellor said. "He's a vicious hitter."

Chancellor's admiration for Taylor isn't just because of the thrill of impact, though. The Seahawk watches the late Redskin for form and technique. There's a science behind how Taylor hit, and it might be more relevant in today's NFL than it was when he played.

"It's how to keep your feet under you," Chancellor said. "Especially being a big safety."

The problem with being a big safety is it increases the likelihood of a helmet-to-helmet hit – and a penalty or fine. Taller tacklers often lunge at runners instead of tackling from a solid foundation. The "Legion of Boom" makes tackling form even more important, as referees know the Seahawks' reputation for heavy hitting. Along with the rugby and steer wrestling highlights, Chancellor looks to Taylor's videos as a model for leading with the shoulder and aiming for the torso: the "Region of Boom." He prides himself on tackling properly and (unlike many players and pundits) he embraces the new NFL rules.

"I've been doing pretty good with it," he said. "It protects the guy's brain. I have an opportunity to show people how to tackle."

Taylor probably never imagined the imprint he made on a player he never met – a player who is taking him to the Super Bowl in spirit. As much as Kam Chancellor is a tribute to the past, Sean Taylor is becoming a model for the game's future.


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(yahoo.com)
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Man Gets 57 Years In Killing Of Sean Taylor

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MIAMI -- The man who prosecutors say fired the shot that killed Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor during a botched 2007 burglary was sentenced Thursday to more than 57 years in state prison.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy imposed the sentence on Eric Rivera, 23, one of five Fort Myers-area men charged with Taylor's death after they broke into his house looking to steal cash. One has pleaded guilty and three others are still awaiting trial.

Rivera confessed to police on videotape that he shot Taylor after the NFL player confronted them at his bedroom door with a machete. In the confession, Rivera also said the group didn't realize Taylor would be home with a knee injury instead of playing a Redskins game against Tampa Bay.

"He lost his life defending and protecting his family," said Assistant State Attorney Reid Rubin in a closing statement. "They kicked the door in and they shot him and killed him, for no good reason."

Testifying in his own defense last fall, Rivera claimed the confession was false and improperly coerced, and that someone else in the group shot Taylor with a 9mm handgun. A jury convicted him of second-degree murder and armed burglary. He was originally charged with first-degree murder but was ineligible for the death penalty because he was 17 at the time of the killing.

In a brief statement, Rivera told members of Taylor's family he was sorry for the killing and that Taylor was "a good man."

"I live with his death every day. I'm going to have to deal with the consequences," he said.

Several Rivera family members pleaded for leniency, noting that Rivera was still a minor at the time and that he had never been in trouble with the law before. But Rubin said Rivera had committed perjury in his testimony and tried to influence the testimony of others in his case.

"He's a sophisticated, manipulative criminal. There's no good reason to believe he will change," Rubin said.

Rivera could have gotten life behind bars. His lawyers are planning to appeal his conviction.

Taylor, a first-round pick by the Redskins in the 2004 draft, was a hard-hitting Pro Bowl safety who had previously starred at the University of Miami. He was shot during the November 2007 confrontation in the upper thigh, damaging his femoral artery and leading to massive blood loss. Taylor was 24 when he died.

His girlfriend at the time, Jackie Garcia Haley, and their then-18-month old daughter were in the room with Taylor when the confrontation occurred. Garcia Haley, in a statement read by Rubin, said Taylor's death was difficult to bear -- particularly for their daughter, also named Jackie.

"You only get one dad and hers is gone. It breaks my heart to pieces to go through each day and each milestone without him," she said.

The gun was never found. Police said it was stuffed in a sock and thrown into the Everglades.

Several witnesses at Rivera's trial testified that Taylor often kept large sums of cash in the house. One of the other men charged in the slaying, 25-year-old Jason Mitchell, attended a birthday party a few weeks earlier for Taylor's half-sister, who testified Taylor gave her a purse containing $10,000.

The half-sister, Sasha Johnson, lived in Fort Myers and knew Rivera. In his testimony, Rivera said the group thought they could steal between $100,000 and $200,000 in cash by burglarizing Taylor's house.


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(espn.com)
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Fla. man faces prison in Sean Taylor slaying

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MIAMI — A man prosecutors say fired the fatal shots in the 2007 killing of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor is about to learn the length of his prison sentence.

A judge is scheduled Thursday afternoon to sentence 23-year-old Eric Rivera Jr., who was convicted in November of second-degree murder and armed burglary. Rivera faces a maximum life sentence but could get less.

Rivera told police in a videotaped confession that he and other young men from the Fort Myers area broke into Taylor’s Miami-area house hoping to steal cash the NFL player kept there. Taylor surprised them because he was home instead of with the Redskins and was shot after confronting them with a machete.

Rivera testified someone else fired the fatal shot. Three others are awaiting trial in the case.


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(ap.com)
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Sean Taylor Inspires Kam Chancellor On Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII Run

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He could play the ball in the air with the best, but Sean Taylor made a career out of dropping the boom.

In the NFC Championship Sunday night in Seattle, Seahawks safety and Norfolk, Va., native Kam Chancellor did his best Taylor impression. The safety made 11 tackles, put a hurting on Vernon Davis and intercepted Colin Kaepernick to help send Seattle to Super Bowl XLVIII.

Earlier in the week, Chancellor told the Seattle Times he watches Taylor highlights before every game.

“I watch Sean Taylor. That’s a guy that I always watch. Before every game I always watch his highlights, just the way that he approaches the game. the physicality that he brings to the game. He’s a big safety, he can run, cover, unfortunately we don’t have him now may he rest in peace, but that’s a guy that I always try to simulate my game after.”

Former Redskins and Seahawks defensive back Shawn Springs told Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN.com that Seattle’s super secondary reminds him of a position group in Washington that included LaRon Landry, Carlos Rogers and Taylor.

“We used to have a competition amongst ourselves because we all felt like we were the best,” Springs said. “And I have to feel like those guys feel the same way. Nobody wants to be the weak link. You feed off that energy.”

Taylor made his own mark on the postseason, tallying six tackles and returning a fumble 51 yards for a touchdown in a 17-10 win over Tampa Bay on Jan. 7, 2006.


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(redskins.com)
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Sentencing set in Florida for Sean Taylor slaying

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A Jan. 23 sentencing date has been set for a Florida man convicted of murder in the 2007 shooting death of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor during a botched burglary at the player's home.

A Miami jury last month convicted 23-year-old Eric Rivera Jr. of second-degree murder and armed burglary. Rivera faces a maximum of life in prison but could get less.

In a recorded statement to investigators, Rivera confessed in detail to plotting the burglary with others and shooting Taylor when the Pro Bowl safety surprised the group with a machete. But on the witness stand, Rivera claimed police coerced a false confession and blamed the shooting on someone else.

Four others were charged. One has pleaded guilty, and the others will stand trial later.

Taylor also starred at the University of Miami.


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(ap.com)
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Sean Taylor's death still resonates

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The trial of his shooter is over (four other men were charged in the case and three await trial), which can’t bring a whole lot of joy and relief to anyone who was close to late Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor. Closure, maybe, but even that will be tough. Taylor is still gone. His daughter will still grow up without her dad and a son will never return to see his parents.

That’s the saddest part, of course. That won’t be forgotten.

The media did not get to know Taylor that well during his time in Washington; he allowed some people in, but rarely revealed much of himself. You had to earn his trust, something even the coaches discovered. Then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams spoke of this often, before and after Taylor’s death.

Was there real growth in Taylor during his four seasons there? Teammates I spoke to at the time said yes. One of them said his opinion of Taylor changed because he saw a young kid maturing. No players are 100-percent beloved, and everyone has critics. Still, players I trust recalled a kid they saw evolving. They knew him better.

For myself, I didn't know Taylor all that well. In all honesty, for most of us, he was the moody, young kid we were trying to get to know, but every time a corner was turned, another obstacle emerged. In time, I thought, he’ll come around. He was getting closer. It takes time for some.

But from a football perspective, I knew him well. And his death still haunts the franchise at the safety position. They've had plenty of time to recover, from a football point of view; it’s hard to find a similar talent, but that doesn't mean they've done a good job in doing so. They've made too many poor decisions here, and that haunts them as well. You can only blame his death for so long. But had Taylor lived, he would have been in his 10th season, probably with a handful of Pro Bowls on his resume and, assuming good health, several more years to go.

Taylor was playing at an elite level in 2007, prior to his knee injury and murder. He could move like few other safeties, allowing the Redskins to disguise coverages longer. For example, he would be over a slot receiver on the left side only to drop to a Cover 2 on the other side. I haven’t seen that since.

He would have been the perfect safety for how the NFL has evolved, too. When offenses go to empty sets, if you have a safety who can run like Taylor and cover like a corner, then you can stay with your base defense and not limit your calls. His speed and aggressiveness would have been a good foil to help defend the read option, too. A corner blitz from the numbers? Go ahead; Taylor could get to the receiver in a hurry. After Taylor died, they had to move rookie LaRon Landry to free safety; he's better at strong but could get away playing free.

It’s too bad NFL.com did not offer the All-22 coaches film when Taylor played, to see how much ground he covered and to see the multitude of ways the Redskins used him to disguise coverages. It would have been revealing.

Taylor played with a passion few have for the sport. He left behind a legacy with his play. He also left behind a lifetime of what-ifs for anyone who watched him.


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(espn.com)
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Accused shooter denies he’s the one who killed Sean Taylor

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The man accused of killing for Redskins safety Sean Taylor took the stand Tuesday and denied he was in the home at the time of the shooting.

According to David Ovalle of the Miami Herald, accused murderer Eric Rivera told jurors he did not know he and a group of four men were going to burglarize Taylor’s home, and that he was in the car at the time shots were fired.

“Did I know we were going to Sean Taylor’s house? No,” Rivera said.

Rivera claimed he stayed inside the SUV as the others went inside Taylor’s home, and that he didn’t know anyone had been shot until the others raced back to the car.

He also said the shooter was Venjah Hunte, the only one of the five defendants to have pleaded guilty so far.

Rivera will face cross-examination this afternoon, which will be interesting since police contend he has already confessed.

Rivera also claimed today that Miami-Dade police coerced him into confessing, and didn’t allow him a chance to call his parents.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Sean Taylor Trial: Prosecution rests

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MIAMI (AP) - The prosecution has rested its main case against the man accused of shooting and killing Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor in 2007.

Defense lawyers for 23-year-old Eric Rivera Jr. will have their chance later Monday. It's unclear yet if Rivera himself will testify.

Rivera was among five people from the Fort Myers area that authorities say wanted to burglarize Taylor's home because they thought he kept large amounts of cash there. Taylor was shot after confronting the group with a machete.

A medical examiner testified Monday that Taylor died of massive blood loss after he was shot in the upper thigh.

Rivera faces life in prison if convicted.

Taylor was a Pro Bowl safety who also starred at the University of Miami.


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Confession Questioned in Slaying of NFL's Sean Taylor

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Police coerced a videotaped confession from the man accused of killing Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor, defense attorneys told a Miami court Monday.

Eric Rivera, 23, is charged with first-degree murder and armed burglary in the November 2007 killing of Taylor, 24, who was a Pro Bowl safety for the Redskins and a standout college player at the University of Miami.

Defense attorney Janese Caruther said his client was "ambushed" by a team of investigators who had little evidence and needed someone to take the fall in the high-profile case.

"The detectives were under such pressure to close this investigation, that they forced my client to confess to this crime," Caruther said.

But Assistant State Attorney Ray Araujo told the 12 jurors and four alternates during opening statements that Rivera voluntarily spoke with detectives without an attorney about how he shot Taylor while he and four friends attempted to burglarize the football star's Miami-area home.

Araujo said Rivera, who has pleaded not guilty, drew diagrams of the house for investigators and told them he tossed the gun into the Florida Everglades. Araujo showed the jury casts of what he said are Rivera's footprints from the crime scene.

"He describes in detail the plan, how they carried it out, who was involved, everything," Araujo said. "This defendant confessed to the murder of Sean Taylor, that he committed it."

Taylor's girlfriend, Jackie Garcia, testified Monday in Miami to describe the night Taylor was shot in their home, feet away from their infant daughter.

Garcia, the niece of actor Andy Garcia, recounted the night of the shooting, testifying that Taylor woke her up and told her to call police because he heard a noise. Taylor grabbed a machete by the bed when an intruder kicked open the bedroom door, according to Garcia.

"I heard a really loud noise, very similar to a gunshot, and I screamed. I got up and I saw Sean laying faced down, surrounded by blood," she testified.

Taylor was shot in the upper thigh, which severed his femoral artery. He died the next day from blood lose. Garcia said she never saw the shooter.

Prosecutor Araujo told jurors, "Sean Taylor, defending himself, defending his family, defending his home, is shot by this defendant."

In addition to the alleged confession, Araujo said trial evidence will show cellphones belonging to the suspects were tracked near Taylor's house.

Araujo said investigators zeroed in on Rivera and the others because some in the group had been to Taylor's home before, once for a birthday party for his sister in which Taylor was seen giving her $10,000 cash. The suspects, Araujo said, thought there was a great deal of cash in Taylor's house.

One of the other four suspects has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary charges and could testify against Rivera. The other three are scheduled to go on trial at a later date.

Because Rivera was 17 at the time of the crime, his maximum possible sentence if convicted is life in prison rather than the death penalty.


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Sean Taylor Murder Trial Finally Begins

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A videotaped confession by the alleged trigger man in the murder of former University of Miami and NFL star Sean Taylor six years was focus point Monday morning during opening arguments of his trial.

During his opening statement Assistant State Attorney Ray Araujo told the 12 jurors and four alternates that Eric Rivera Jr., 23, voluntarily spoke with detectives without an attorney present about how he shot Taylor while he and four friends attempted to burglarize the football star’s Palmetto Bay home.
Rivera even drew diagrams of the rooms and where everyone was at the time, Araujo said.

“He describes in detail the plan, how they carried it out, who was involved, everything,” Araujo said. “This defendant confessed to the murder of Sean Taylor, that he committed it.”

Rivera’s attorney, Janese Caruthers, countered that Rivera was coerced into the confession. Caruthers said he was “ambushed” by a team of investigators who had little evidence and was looking for someone to take the fall in a high-pressure case.

“They forced him to confess to a crime that he did not commit,” Caruthers said.

Taylor, who was 24 when he died, was a Pro Bowl safety for the Redskins.

Prosecutors say Rivera and four others, all from the Fort Myers area, thought Taylor would be with the Redskins at a game at Tampa Bay the night they broke into his house — but instead he was home with a knee injury.

The prosecution detailed how the hard-hitting 6’2″, 230 pound safety grabbed a machete to try and defend his girlfriend and baby.

“He (Taylor) grabs a machete and tells her to stay in bed,” prosecutor Reid Ruben said. “He walks towards his bedroom door; not knowing who or what was waiting on him on the other side. It’s at that moment, that this defendant, Eric Rivera, gun in his hand, kicks the door open.”

Ruben continued, “and when that happens, Sean Taylor, machete in his hand is standing there and is shot.”

“I heard a really loud noise, gun shots, scream like ‘Ahhhh.’,” testified Taylor’s girlfriend Jackie Garcia who was in the master bedroom with the couple’s child.  “I hid under the covers.”

“Where was your daughter,” asked the prosecutor.

“Next to me,” replied Garcia.

Garcia said she didn’t see Rivera the night of the shooting and tried to get help.

“I ran outside screanming, told them someone was dying, to please hurry,” said Garcia.

Taylor was shot in the upper thigh, which severed his femoral artery. He died the next day from massive blood loss.

Members of Taylor’s family, including his father, Florida City Police Chief Pedro Taylor, took up nearly an entire row in the packed Miami-Dade County courtroom.

In addition to the confession, Araujo said trial evidence will show cellphones belonging to the suspects were tracked near Taylor’s house and along Alligator Alley, the route they allegedly took to and from the crime. Police also found a footprint at Taylor’s home that matched the sneakers Rivera was wearing that night, the prosecutor said.

Araujo said investigators zeroed in on Rivera and the others because some in the group had been to Taylor’s home before, once for a birthday party for his sister in which Taylor was seen giving her $10,000 cash. The Fort Myers group, Araujo said, thought there was a great deal of cash in Taylor’s house.

“They had a plan and they carried it out. This was a burglary that turned into a murder,” the prosecutor said.

One of the other four suspects, Venjah Hunte, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary charges and could testify against Rivera. The other three are scheduled to go on trial later.

Because Rivera was 17 at the time of the crime, his maximum possible sentence if convicted is life in prison rather than the death penalty.


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Trial starts in slaying of Redskins' Sean Taylor

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MIAMI — Nearly six years ago, All-Pro safety Sean Taylor was at home nursing an injury instead of taking the field with his Washington Redskins teammates for a road game at Tampa. Unfortunately, a group of young men from southwest Florida apparently didn't know that.

Prosecutors say the suspects drove across the state intending to burglarize Taylor's Miami-area home, confident he wouldn't be there. When the 6-foot-2, 230-pound player — well known as a ferocious hitter — confronted them with a machete early on Nov. 26, 2007, Eric Rivera Jr. allegedly fired two shots. One missed. The other hit Taylor in the upper leg, causing massive blood loss that led to his death a day later at age 24.

Finally, after numerous delays, jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday for Rivera's first-degree murder trial. Because Rivera, now 23, was only 17 at the time of the crime, he faces life in prison instead of the death penalty if convicted. Jury selection is expected to take about four days.

Four other people were also charged in the case. One of them, Venjah Hunte, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary charges and is expected to testify against Rivera. The other three are scheduled to go to trial later on lesser charges. Hunte's plea deal calls for a 29-year prison term instead of life.

Although Taylor had some run-ins with the law and been fined several times by the NFL for various rules violations, his future seemed extremely bright before he was killed. The son of Florida City Police Chief Pedro Taylor and an All-American player at the University of Miami, the Redskins drafted Taylor with the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft and he signed an $18 million contract.

Taylor quickly became a starter and was nicknamed "Meast" by teammates — a combination of man and beast — because of his hard-hitting style. He was named to the Pro Bowl after the 2006 season and was also very popular among Redskins players and fans. One of his best friends, wide receiver Santana Moss, said he still says "a little prayer" for Taylor every time he takes the field.

"I have a few people that have passed away in my life as friends that have meant something to me, and I'm always constantly speaking to them. That's just something I do. He's one of those guys," Moss said.

The Redskins contributed $500,000 to a fund for Taylor's young daughter after he died and, in the first game after his slaying, the team's defense took the field against Buffalo with only 10 players on the first play — leaving Taylor's free safety position vacant to honor him. Fans at that game got towels bearing his number, 21.

To many fans, players and others connected with both the Redskins and the "U" at Miami, it was heartbreaking to see such a talented player's life and career cut short so brutally.

"He was a young man who was learning quickly how to be a great human being, and, to me, he was the best football player I've ever seen in person," said former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, a nine-year veteran who now does broadcasts for the team. "He was the most physical, the most gifted, the hardest-working guy that I've been around, and it was such an unfortunate thing."

Former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, now a NASCAR racing team owner, said Taylor began to mature and take a leadership role on the team after the birth of his daughter.

"It wound up being a true tragedy and it had a huge effect on all of us," Gibbs said of Taylor's killing. "He was one of those guys that with the way he played and his persona the way he was, he was a natural leader. You could see guys look to him from a leadership standpoint."

The fatal attempted burglary was not the first time there was a break-in at Taylor's home.

Police say someone pried open a window a few days earlier, on Nov. 17, and rifled through a desk and other belongings. No one was home that time, and it's not clear exactly what, if anything, was taken.

Then came the weekend after Thanksgiving with the Redskins playing the Buccaneers that Sunday. Taylor was given permission to stay home with a knee injury, along with his girlfriend, Jackie Garcia, and their 18-month-old daughter, also named Jackie.

Police say two of the men charged had connections to Taylor: Jason Scott Mitchell had cut Taylor's lawn and an older cousin of suspect Charles Wardlow had dated Taylor's sister. Family members also said Mitchell had recently been at a birthday party at Taylor's house, where Taylor was known to keep large amounts of cash.

Miami-Dade County's former police director, Robert Parker, said the defendants were surprised to find Taylor home early that Monday morning.

"They were certainly not looking to go there and kill anyone," Parker said. "They were expecting a residence that was not occupied."

Authorities say they have obtained confessions from at least some of the suspects, all from the Fort Myers area, but pretrial hearings on whether those statements will be allowed in Rivera's trial were closed by Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy. The judge also imposed a gag order on prosecutors and defense attorneys in hopes of limiting pretrial news media coverage that could make jury selection difficult.

The murder weapon has never been found. Prosecutors say it was thrown into the Everglades after the slaying while the group drove home across Alligator Alley.

There have already been at least seven previous trial dates set for Rivera. Cooley, for one, said it's time for justice to be done.

"Breaking into someone's home, into their personal safety blanket and shooting them in that environment is the most heinous, unthinkable crime that could have happened to a guy like Sean. It's despicable," Cooley said.


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Trial starts in slaying of Redskins' Sean Taylor

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MIAMI (AP) -- Nearly six years ago, All-Pro safety Sean Taylor was at home nursing an injury instead of taking the field with his Washington Redskins teammates for a road game at Tampa. Unfortunately, a group of young men from southwest Florida apparently didn't know that.

Prosecutors say the suspects drove across the state intending to burglarize Taylor's Miami-area home, confident he wouldn't be there. When the 6-foot-2, 230-pound player - well known as a ferocious hitter - confronted them with a machete early on Nov. 26, 2007, Eric Rivera Jr. allegedly fired two shots. One missed. The other hit Taylor in the upper leg, causing massive blood loss that led to his death a day later at age 24.

Finally, after numerous delays, jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday for Rivera's first-degree murder trial. Because Rivera, now 23, was only 17 at the time of the crime, he faces life in prison instead of the death penalty if convicted. Jury selection is expected to take about four days.

Four other people were also charged in the case. One of them, Venjah Hunte, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary charges and is expected to testify against Rivera. The other three are scheduled to go to trial later on lesser charges. Hunte's plea deal calls for a 29-year prison term instead of life.

Although Taylor had some run-ins with the law and been fined several times by the NFL for various rules violations, his future seemed extremely bright before he was killed. The son of Florida City Police Chief Pedro Taylor and an All-American player at the University of Miami, the Redskins drafted Taylor with the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft and he signed an $18 million contract.

Taylor quickly became a starter and was nicknamed ''Meast'' by teammates - a combination of man and beast - because of his hard-hitting style. He was named to the Pro Bowl after the 2006 season and was also very popular among Redskins players and fans. One of his best friends, wide receiver Santana Moss, said he still says ''a little prayer'' for Taylor every time he takes the field.

''I have a few people that have passed away in my life as friends that have meant something to me, and I'm always constantly speaking to them. That's just something I do. He's one of those guys,'' Moss said.

The Redskins contributed $500,000 to a fund for Taylor's young daughter after he died and, in the first game after his slaying, the team's defense took the field against Buffalo with only 10 players on the first play - leaving Taylor's free safety position vacant to honor him. Fans at that game got towels bearing his number, 21.

To many fans, players and others connected with both the Redskins and the ''U'' at Miami, it was heartbreaking to see such a talented player's life and career cut short so brutally.

''He was a young man who was learning quickly how to be a great human being, and, to me, he was the best football player I've ever seen in person,'' said former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, a nine-year veteran who now does broadcasts for the team. ''He was the most physical, the most gifted, the hardest-working guy that I've been around, and it was such an unfortunate thing.''

Former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, now a NASCAR racing team owner, said Taylor began to mature and take a leadership role on the team after the birth of his daughter.

''It wound up being a true tragedy and it had a huge effect on all of us,'' Gibbs said of Taylor's killing. ''He was one of those guys that with the way he played and his persona the way he was, he was a natural leader. You could see guys look to him from a leadership standpoint.''

The fatal attempted burglary was not the first time there was a break-in at Taylor's home.

Police say someone pried open a window a few days earlier, on Nov. 17, and rifled through a desk and other belongings. No one was home that time, and it's not clear exactly what, if anything, was taken.

Then came the weekend after Thanksgiving with the Redskins playing the Buccaneers that Sunday. Taylor was given permission to stay home with a knee injury, along with his girlfriend, Jackie Garcia, and their 18-month-old daughter, also named Jackie.

Police say two of the men charged had connections to Taylor: Jason Scott Mitchell had cut Taylor's lawn and an older cousin of suspect Charles Wardlow had dated Taylor's sister. Family members also said Mitchell had recently been at a birthday party at Taylor's house, where Taylor was known to keep large amounts of cash.

Miami-Dade County's former police director, Robert Parker, said the defendants were surprised to find Taylor home early that Monday morning.

''They were certainly not looking to go there and kill anyone,'' Parker said. ''They were expecting a residence that was not occupied.''

Authorities say they have obtained confessions from at least some of the suspects, all from the Fort Myers area, but pretrial hearings on whether those statements will be allowed in Rivera's trial were closed by Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy. The judge also imposed a gag order on prosecutors and defense attorneys in hopes of limiting pretrial news media coverage that could make jury selection difficult.

The murder weapon has never been found. Prosecutors say it was thrown into the Everglades after the slaying while the group drove home across Alligator Alley.

There have already been at least seven previous trial dates set for Rivera. Cooley, for one, said it's time for justice to be done.

''Breaking into someone's home, into their personal safety blanket and shooting them in that environment is the most heinous, unthinkable crime that could have happened to a guy like Sean. It's despicable,'' Cooley said.


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Trial Date Set for Man Charged in Sean Taylor Murder

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A judge has set a trial date for one of the men charged in the 2007 murder of NFL star Sean Taylor in Miami.

Eric Rivera, 23, is charged with first-degree murder and burglary with assault or battery in the death of Taylor, who was killed during what prosecutors say was a botched robbery at his Miami-area home.

On Monday, a judge scheduled his trial date for Oct. 15. It had been scheduled to begin Monday and has been delayed several times.

Taylor, a two-time Pro Bowl safety for the Washington Redskins, had starred at the University of Miami, helping the Hurricanes to the national championship in 2001.

Rivera and three others, all from the Fort Myers area, have pleaded not guilty and are being tried separately. Each faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

A fifth man previously pleaded guilty to murder and burglary charges and is likely to testify against the others.


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Trial Of Sean Taylor’s Alleged Killer Delayed Again

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The trial of the alleged shooter of Washington Redskins star safety Sean Taylor has been delayed again.

Miami-Dade County Courts said the trial of 23-year-old Eric Rivera, Junior will not begin on Monday as was previously scheduled.

The delay was due to scheduling conflicts and availability of witnesses.

Taylor was murdered six years during a botched robbery of his home. Rivera and four other suspects from the Ft. Myers area have been charged with the killing.

A fifth suspect pleaded guilty to murder and burglary charges.

Rivera and the other four defendants pleaded not guilty and will be tried in separate trials. All face a possible life sentence if they’re convicted.


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Sean Taylor case: Eric Rivera trial delayed

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MIAMI, Fl. (WJLA) - The trial of Eric Rivera, the man who prosecutors say killed former Redskins safety Sean Taylor, will not start Monday.

The Washington Times reports a Florida court delayed Rivera's trial until September 16th. Taylor died in November 2007 after being shot during a robbery at his Miami home.

Four men, including Rivera, are charged in Taylor's death. A fifth man accepted a plea deal in exchange for his testimony.


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Wait for justice in Sean Taylor killing drags on

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Each day seems the same to Venjah Hunte. Up at 5:30 a.m. Breakfast. Back to sleep. Cell check. Cut hair, play basketball or cards for an hour or two in the recreation yard at the Metro West Detention Center in Miami. Shower. Locked down again.

Time is measured by the two or three tear-choked times each month he sees family through thick glass separating visitors. By reading and working out and watching television and praying. By repeating the solitary routine since he was booked at 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2007, and became inmate No. 070106122. By waiting.

“I’m always doing or trying to do something to keep busy,” Hunte wrote in one of multiple letters to The Washington Times describing jail life. “It makes the day go by faster.”

Blood and regret cover the November night 5 1/2 years ago that locked him up and left Sean Taylor dead. The night lingers, something even time can’t push away as the case’s quiet drama continues. The lone resolution is the grave of the Washington Redskins‘ star safety. The first verse of Psalm 23 is etched near the base: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Two verses from the same chapter were tattooed on Taylor’s left shoulder, the autopsy report noted.

Hunte took a plea bargain in 2008 that landed him a 29-year sentence for second-degree murder in exchange for testimony against the four other defendants: Timmy Lee Brown, Jason Scott Mitchell, Eric Rivera and Charles K. Wardlow. Hunte initially tried to back out of the agreement, but faced two life sentences if he did so and dropped the effort in 2009. Trials for the four others, charged with first-degree murder in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, have been relentlessly delayed since the first attempt in April 2008. Last year, for instance, a trial date of April 16 became Nov. 5, then April 5 of this year. The latest try is set for August.
The four defendants, all jailed, didn’t respond to letters seeking comment.

“This is not unusual … when you have so many co-defendants and a high-profile case,” said Landon Miller, who represented Mitchell in the case’s early stages but is no longer associated with the proceedings. “High profile makes courts more cautious. You only want to try a case once. You don’t want it to come back on appeal.”

Another attorney knowledgeable about the case attributed the delays, in part, to defendants expending every effort to draw out the proceedings in hopes of discovering a path, however unlikely, out of jail. They face life in prison if convicted.

Earlier this month, Wardlow asked the court to be removed from the Pre-Trial Detention Center in Miami because of medical concerns. That continued his long-running correspondence with the court over such matters — including, at one point, requesting a “full-body scan” and to be “checked for everything.” In one letter to 11th Judicial Circuit Judge Dennis J. Murphy, Wardlow claimed problems ranging from a “tingly feeling” in his extremities to pain in his chest and back to coughing up “white things.” He asked that his kidneys be examined, wanted to be re-tested for “siffless” diagnosed in 2011 and wondered if he had cancer.
“I need help before it’s too late,” wrote the inmate, whose father, Vince E. Wardlow, is serving a life sentence at South Bay (Fla.) Correctional Facility for second-degree murder, “please, please.”

A scrawled heading to the note insisted it was Wardlow’s last communication on the matter. Time drags on. So do the requests.
• • •

The long list of aborted trial dates is rivaled only by continued turnover among the defense attorneys. Rivera, identified as the alleged shooter in the original indictment, filed a motion earlier this month to represent himself. Last year, he dropped attorney Clinton Pitts a month before one of the trial dates. A former attorney for Wardlow, John E. Evans III, was disbarred in 2011. He was released from federal prison last month after serving an 18-month sentence after pleading guilty to wire fraud.

Numerous attorneys and others connected to the case in the present or past, including Evans, declined to comment or didn’t respond to requests.

A wide-ranging gag order in place since 2008 from Judge Murphy shrouds much of the case and postponements in secrecy. Key documents, like Hunte’s deposition last year, have been sealed and hearings closed to media. Prosecutor Reid Rubin, attorneys, police and others connected to the case aren’t permitted to speak publicly about it.

“The cumulative effect of the media coverage and statements made by various persons if allowed to continue would deprive the defendants of their right to a fair trial,” the order said.

The order’s four pages are why Taylor’s father, Pedro, hasn’t said much in recent years. Interview requests are politely declined until the trials finish. His most extensive public comments in recent years came during a brief conversation last fall with reporters on the sideline at FedEx Field.

“There’s never going to be any closure,” said Pedro, who is police chief in Florida City, Fla. “It’s hard to lose a child. It’s hard to even fathom me burying a kid. I respect the fact that God makes no mistakes. But at the same time, there won’t ever be closure because it’s so big and my heart’s too big. When you lose something that big, it really leaves a pit inside you. It’s hard. Very hard. But he’ll always live long in my life. He’ll always live forever in my life.”
Could the trial, any trial, really, be a relief?

“It will,” he said. “It will.”
• • •

So, lives push forward without Taylor. A 15-minute drive from the cemetery where he’s buried, if traffic is smooth, sits his former home on Old Cutler Road. Taylor bought the four-bedroom property surrounded by a white wall in 2005. Owed $820,132.91 from the remaining principal by 2010, in addition to interest, taxes and fees, Wachovia Mortgage Co. foreclosed. The property became overgrown, drawing a warning letter from Palmetto Bay’s code compliance officer to clean up within five days or face a $250 sanction and other penalties.

Eventually the home sold in 2011 for $460,000, just over half of what Taylor paid. The real estate listing, complete with pictures of the empty, spotless home, didn’t hint at the horror that swept through on that November night.

“Paved patio, excellent for entertainment,” the listing read. “Shade trees. Beautiful grounds. Foyer entrance. Fireplace in living room. Open floor plan.”
That’s where the five men arrived at 1:40 a.m. The break-in seems as distant to Hunte as freedom. Taylor’s bedroom door was kicked down. Two gunshots. One bullet plunged into Taylor’s right thigh, cut the femoral artery and, 27 hours later, ended his life at age 24.

Hunte has insisted he never ventured inside. The night isn’t something he thinks about much. In one letter to The Times, he apologized to Taylor’s family,
admitted the words were inadequate, but sought forgiveness anyway. The consequences, though, stalk him day after isolated day.

“I wish I would’ve had better judgement of the people I surrounded myself with that night,” he wrote. “Last, I just wish [Taylor] hadn’t passed away. It was an unfortunate situation, but there was no malice on my behalf.”

He writes about change, big and small. Not cursing as much. Doing life the right way. Not ending up back in jail. Thinking through decisions before he makes them, like the three drug-related charges he faced in Lee County, Fla., in the months before the drive across the state to Taylor’s home. Not chasing money. Not living the fast life.

There’s a book he wants to write to make sense of what happened and, in his mind, honor Taylor’s family.

“Most of all,” he wrote, “to give young men all across the country an alternative to the things there [sic] going through, no matter the race or bringing up. … I can’t change the world, but that one person can go a long way.”

There’s plenty of time to think after the night that won’t end.


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Sean Taylor Murder Trial Date Set

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LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — Four men will stand trial for the shooting death of former Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor beginning in August.

Taylor was shot in the leg during by armed intruders during an attempted robbery of his Florida home in 2007. He underwent surgery to repair damage to his femoral artery, but would eventually succumb to his injuries.

Timothy Lee Brown, Jason Scott Mitchell, Eric Rivera, and Charles K. Wardlow face first-degree murder and armed burglary charges in connection to the shooting. The defendants could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

Venjah Hunte, who pleaded guilty to degree murder in 2009, is expected to testify against the defendants. He is currently serving a 29 year prison sentence.
The Redskins selected Taylor with the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft. He was elected to the Pro Bowl in 2006 and posthumously in 2007.

He was 24 at the time of his death.


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Sean Taylor: Trial date set for alleged shooter

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The day after what would have been Sean Taylor’s 30th birthday, a new trial date was set in Miami for the man who allegedly shot him to death in November 2007.

After a number of postponements, Eric Rivera Jr., 22, will stand trial Aug. 12, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy said Tuesday (via the Associated Press).

The Washington Redskins’ safety, who grew up and lived in the Miami area, died Nov. 27, 2007, the day after he was shot during what is believed to have been a robbery at his Miami-area home. Taylor was recovering from a knee injury at his Palmetto Bay home and was not with the team.

Three other men, who are, like Rivera, from the Fort Myers area, have entered not-guilty pleas and are being tried separately. A fifth man, Venjah Hunte, previously pleaded guilty to murder and burglary charges in 2008. He is expected to testify against the other men. In a letter to Nathan Fenno of the Washington Times earlier this year, he wrote:

“To begin, I would like to send my deepest apology to the family of Sean Taylor. I know an apology won’t bring him back, but I hope one day they could find it in their hearts to forgive me. …

“My thought or intentions weren’t to hurt him or noone [sic] else, let alone murder, it was something I thought would never happen. Even though I didn’t pull the trigger I still have to take responsibility for my actions. Period.”

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, like many Redskins fans, paused to remember Taylor on Monday. “Happy Birthday Sean Taylor…,” RGIII tweeted, “1 of the Greatest Redskins I never got the chance to meet in this life but will in the next.”


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Man jailed in Sean Taylor's murder apologizes

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Former Redskins safety Sean Taylor was murdered five years ago last Nov. 27. He was shot during a botched robbery in his home and died the next day. He was 24.

"I was thinking to myself, it's kind of like winning the lotto to have a guy like Sean Taylor, to be able to say, ‘That's a friend,"' former teammate Clinton Portis said on the anniversary of Taylor's death. "And many people don't get that opportunity."

Authorities arrested five suspects. Four pleaded not guilty and have yet to go to trial. The fifth, Venjah Hunte, pleaded guilty in 2008 to second-degree murder and burglary while armed in exchange for a 29-year sentence that was part of a plea deal. Hunte was also the only defendant among the five to respond to the Washington Times' Nathan Fenno.

In a letter to the paper written last month, Hunte apologized for what happened in Palmetto Bay, Fla., on Nov. 26, 2007.

"To begin, I would like to send my deepest apology to the family of Sean Taylor,” Hunte wrote in a letter to the Times in response to several questions. “I know an apology won't bring him back, but I hope one day they could find it in their hearts to forgive me. …

“My thought or intentions weren't to hurt him or noone [sic] else, let alone murder, it was something I thought would never happen,” Hunte continued. “Even though I didn't pull the trigger I still have to take responsibility for my actions. Period.”

Taylor was shot in his right leg and the bullet hit his femoral artery. He died the next day. Hunte maintains that he wasn't in the house when the gun went off.

“Back then, I was just existing, I wasn't living life at all,” Hunte wrote, “I was just living the fast life, chasing fast money, doing things my way which would be the wrong way in the end.

“In the last five years, I've had to grow up and mature a lot. I no longer think about or want to indulge in the things I used to, it's just not worth it to me anymore. …

“At this point I feel like if I ever want to be back in society, the change starts now,” Hunte wrote, “and that's how I live from now on by surrounding myself with positive things at all times.”

READ THE ENTIRE LETTER HERE.


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PHOTOS: One family’s 21 beer can salute, for Sean Taylor

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K.C. tragedy raises specter of Sean Taylor slaying

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When Sean Taylor went full-speed in practice, that included hitting his Washington Redskins teammates like he did opponents in games. But not tight end Chris Cooley, his friend with whom he talked to every day.

“He never did that to me,” Cooley said. “He would always come up and said: ‘I love you, buddy. I won’t do that to you.’ And I was always thankful.”

Cooley got that respect from Taylor for 3½ seasons. Then, in late November 2007, Taylor was dead after being shot at his South Florida home. The Redskins had to cope with a loss that was far greater than anything they could endure on the field.

“Just the reality that a guy that you’ve been living with in this locker room is no longer here, it was just like a surreal experience,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “You’re just trying to comprehend all that. That was probably the hardest part: here one day and the next minute gone.”

More than five years after Taylor’s death, the Kansas City Chiefs are in the aftermath of another tragedy after linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend last Saturday morning and then drove to the practice facility and killed himself. The differences are many, including the circumstances of each player’s death, but the process of going through death and football is all too common in recent years.

In 2010, Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley committed suicide. In 2009, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry fell out of a pickup truck driven by his fiancee and died.

In 2007, Broncos running back Damien Nash died of a heart attack while playing pickup basketball in the offseason, just months after Denver cornerback Darrent Williams was shot and killed in the early morning of New Year's Day.

“Everybody kind of handles it in a different way,” said Mike Shanahan, who coached the Broncos during the deaths of Nash and Williams. “It’s a really, really tough time in an organization when something tragic like that happens. Your heart goes out to them, but everybody will persevere and they’ll work through it.”
Six Redskins players remain from 2007, which became a season dedicated to Taylor. It’s impossible to be around the team and not think about Taylor; his No. 21 is plastered on the guard’s booth that allows entry to Redskins Park.

And while Taylor died five years ago, Cooley said it’s not hard to remember what it was like, especially given the Kansas City tragedy.

“There was nothing to latch on to. There was nothing to think like, ‘I have this.’ It was, I guess, an ‘in awe’ situation. You just keep going,” Cooley said. “You just kept playing football. Everyone has grief and everyone deals with situations differently, and my way to do it is just keep living, doing what I do.”

That’s what the Chiefs were forced to do, playing Sunday at home less than 36 hours after Belcher murdered Kasandra Perkins and then turned a gun on himself. They beat the Carolina Panthers 27-21.

Taylor was shot Nov. 26, 2007, and died of excessive bleeding the next day. The Redskins lost at home to Buffalo on Dec. 2 and traveled for the funeral the following day. On Thursday night, Dec. 6, they beat Chicago behind backup quarterback Todd Collins to start a four-game winning streak that put them in the playoffs.

“I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong answer to it. Personally, getting away from it does help,” Alexander said. “That’s with anything that may be going on with your life, to going out there and just playing and using your teammates to kind of lean on and playing the game that you love kind of gets you away from the situation.

“But obviously, at some point you have to deal with it, whether you’re getting help or talking to a counselor. It relieves the pain temporarily, but at the same time, you’ve still got to address it at some point.”


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(washingtontimes.com)
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VIDEO: Sean Taylor Tribute, Reed, Moss, Portis, Rolle Reflect



It was five years ago today that Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died after a shooting at his home. Taylor's death was one of the most shocking and affecting in recent sports history, and the memory of it still resonates strongly and emotionally with Taylor's fans, friends and former teammates. This video tribute includes insights from former college and professional teammates Antrel Rolle, Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Chris Cooley and Santana Moss as well as Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who smiles as he remembers Portis badgering him to draft Taylor.

I remember hearing of Taylor's death, of course. I was a baseball writer at the time, but anyone who followed sports even tangentially heard the story, and no one could get their arms around it in a way that made any sense. Five years later, as I heard today from fans, watched the video and read the columns by those who were covering the story at the time, it's clear that Taylor's death is still affecting a large number of people.

Rolle talks about how he still watches Taylor highlights on YouTube. Cooley remembers how grateful he was that Taylor never practiced his trademark big hits against him in practice. And Moss breaks down in tears remembering the way the news affected him. If you're a Redskins fan, I know the loss of Taylor is a wound on your heart that still hasn't healed. I invite you to share your memories and your feelings about him in the comments section of this post.


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(espn.com)
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VIDEO: Ray Lewis, Ed Reed & W. McGahee Pay Tribute To Sean Taylor




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Sean Taylor: Five years after his death, so many questions unanswered

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It’s five years since I got a 7 a.m. phone call on a Tuesday morning from the office to say Sean Taylor had died, and all I have still is the same emptiness. And questions. Hard questions. Some of which I know the answers to but don’t want to hear. And others no one can know.

I still wonder: How does a kid who had met Taylor — a friend of his sister who had attended a party once at his house — end up being part of a botched home invasion and robbery that ends up costing Taylor his life? How many bad decisions did he have to be a part of before he threw away his own life?

Why hasn’t the man fingered as the gunman been sent away for life already? How is Eric Rivera, who was 17 at the time, not scheduled to see trial until next April — assuming that date isn’t postponed for some judicial matter that prevents Taylor’s family and friends from perhaps even an ounce of understanding or closure?

I wonder when has someone you knew actually died after they had been shot in the leg? Five years later, the chances of a bullet striking the femoral artery, of losing so much blood in so little time, just seems so random and wrong.

Then there are the what-ifs about his career, which seemed destined for more Pro Bowls, more comparisons to the all-time greats at his position. How good could Sean Taylor have been?

We tend to be kind to the supernovas that burn so brilliantly for so few years before leaving us much too soon. Sean Taylor has become football’s James Dean, Jim Morrison or Tupac Shakur — taken in the infancy of his fame.

Would he have been Ronnie Lott-good, better than the greatest hard-hitting safety in NFL history? Or just Kenny Easley- and Donnie Shell-good, which is still great? Would he have put up better numbers than Ed Reed and gone down as the best University of Miami safety to play in the NFL?

Or would his penchant for controlled malice have gotten him in more hot water than James Harrison in the new safety-conscious NFL?

There are also the personal questions Sean Taylor never answered. Who was he? I tried to find out about a month before his death, but he wouldn’t let me in.
“You don’t want to see the good in a person like Sean,” Clinton Portis, his closest friend on the team, told me then. “You don’t want to understand the success or the pain he’s went through to be where he is.”

Only after his passing did we find out what a doting father he was to Jackie, the 18-month-old baby daughter innocently sashaying past her father’s casket, the most sorrowful moment I can remember from 2007.

Really, what kind of father could Sean Taylor be? That little girl is 6 today. She deserved to find out.

Before all the testimonials at his memorial service of his childhood and the recent spiritual changes in him brought on by the birth of his daughter, we only knew that violence surrounded Taylor’s career and life. The son of a police chief, he had his own run-ins with the law — including allegedly chasing down thieves who stole his ATVs and pointing a gun at them.

Finally, how could someone we learned more about in death than in life connect so deeply with a fan base? Before Robert Griffin III, Sean Taylor had his own mystique and almost cult-like following.

He played a medieval sport with a fierceness and passion that still endears him to so many, some of whom still mourn him like family today, five years after his passing.


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(washingtonpost.com)
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VIDEO: The Legend of Sean Taylor




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Meet Sean Taylor's Brother, Gabriel Taylor, Who's Tearing up Pee-Wee Football and Basketball

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Last Saturday, as part of the Redskins "Homecoming Game" vs the Panthers, the Redskins held several events around the city, including a lunch with Sean's Dad, Pedro "Pete," where I got the chance to talk and interview him. Also there was Pete's son, and Sean's brother, Gabriel, who is as nice and humble as can be. Much of the buzz of the afternoon was how good Gabriel is and that he has highlights on YouTube. Indeed. And they are quite amazing. Reportedly (I don't buy this for one minute), Shanahan only cares about a prospect's 10 best plays, so Gabriel would fit that nicely. If only the NFL draft was like Major League Baseball's the Redskins could draft the rights to him now.



Via Generation Nexxt:
Gabriel Taylor #21, safety for the Florida City Razorbacks 90's was selected as the Miami Dolphins Youth Player of week. With a key interception for a touchdown, Gabriel sealed a victory against the Gwen Cherry Bulls in the Championship game.

Here's video of Gabriel for both basketball and football. At the 3:05 mark shows him swishing a NBA three pointer and game film begins of all his point guard dishing. He's clearly playing against kids bigger than him and likely older than him.

At the 7:30 mark, the football highlights begin from his 90 pound league. They're all very Sean Taylor-esque. Out-juking players as a RB, great jumps on interceptions, tackling guys bigger than him, and some big pops.


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(hogshaven.com)
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Pedro Taylor: There never will be any closure

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It’s been nearly five years since Sean Taylor was killed at his home in Florida. Time hasn’t dimmed the memories of him for fans or, especially, his father, Pedro Taylor. He was back in town for the Redskins homecoming game Sunday vs. Carolina, along with Taylor’s daughter and other family members. Here’s a little bit from a short conversation with him (tough to hear at some points because of the noise):

Q: What’s it like to be back?
A: It’s beautiful. It’s been a great, exciting time. The reception was nice last night.

Q: When was the last time you were back?
A: It was about less than a year ago. I try to come back once a year to a game to show my love.

Q: Is it hard for you? Odd?
A: I think it’s more rewarding and healing for me to come back. It helps just bring back memories and have a good time. That’s what we had here, a good time.

Q: What memories have you had since you’ve been here?
A: Watching my granddaughter being held by by [Sean] over here in the corner and just having fun.

Q: Does your granddaughter like being around?
A: This is her second time back. She’s very excited and it’s a great feeling.

Q: It must be nice to have here come here and have people tell her what they think or remember about her dad.
A: As she gets older she understands more. She definitely will be appreciative. I’m appreciative. The family’s appreciative.

Q: [Tough to hear question; was about the trial of Taylor’s accused killers].
A: I’m in every trial. Right now we’re getting ready to start the real trial.

Q: Is it nice to get to that point?
A: It will be.

Q: Will that bring any closure?
A: There never will be any closure. It’s hard to lose a child. It’s hard for a parent to bury a kid. I respect the fact that God makes some mistakes [inaudible].

Q: It’s hard to believe it’s been five years.
A: Very hard. But he’ll always live forever in my life.


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(washingtonexaminer.com)
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Sean Taylor's father joins Redskins defense for pregame huddle (VIDEO)

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The Washington Redskins secondary invited Pedro Taylor, the father of the late Sean Taylor, to join in a pregame huddle before Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.

Taylor shook hands with members of the Redskins defense, then huddled with them in a pregame circle.

Sean Taylor was murdered in his Florida home five years ago this month. His father was in Washington as part of the team's 80th anniversary celebration. Sean was honored as one of the 80 greatest Redskins at an event Saturday night. Pedro accepted the honor with Sean's six-year-old daughter, Jackie.



This was an undeniable goosebump-raising moment, even if the "we ride together, we die together" mantra felt too uncomfortable given the circumstances.


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(usatoday.com)
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Redskins Song Pays Tribute To Sean Taylor




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Fla. trial for alleged Sean Taylor shooter delayed

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MIAMI -- The trial has been delayed from November to April for the alleged shooter in the 2007 slaying of former Washington Redskins star safety Sean Taylor.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy on Monday set the trial to begin April 15 for 22-year-old Eric Rivera Jr. It was previously set for Nov. 5 but the chief prosecutor has a conflict.

He's one of five defendants from the Fort Myers area who are accused of killing Taylor during a botched robbery at the player's Miami-Dade County home. Four have pleaded not guilty and are being tried separately. Each faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

A fifth man previously pleaded guilty to murder and burglary charges and is likely to testify against the others.

Taylor starred in college at the University of Miami.


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(sacbee.com)
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Clinton Portis Told Redskins Coaching Staff To Draft Sean Taylor Over Kellen Winslow Jr.

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Clinton Portis called it a career this past week finishing out with 9,923 yards and 75 touchdowns. He was the Redskins’ second all-time leading rusher with 6,824 yards, a mere 648 yards behind franchise leader John Riggins. Unfortunately No.26 missed out on his goal of eclipsing 10,000 rushing yards. He ended his career 77 yards shy of that mark.

The man who was known back in 2005 for the colorful costumes and prank characters signed a 1-day contract to retire as a Redskin. Portis is now looking forward to finding a passion for football again and maybe making his way into the radio business.

Clinton Portis joined 106.7 The Fan in D.C. with Holden and Danny to discuss becoming good friends with Sean Taylor, meeting Dan Snyder at an ESPY’s after party, the possibility of working for the Redskins/NFL, not working for the Washington Redskins just yet and meeting Robert Griffin III.

How did a bond between you and Sean Taylor became so close?
“I don’t know. That’s like saying how did you get to be friends with somebody? It just falls into place. You think about the times or you think about the moments and all of a sudden I still reflect to the day that the Redskins was really thinking about drafting Kellen Winslow Jr. over Sean Taylor. I told coach, ‘I think Kellen Winslow Jr. is a great player, but man if we don’t draft Sean Taylor we missing out.’ Coach was like, ‘You really think so?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah. Really. Sean Taylor is going to be special.’ He was and forever will be. There’s not a day that goes by where you don’t think of him and somebody always mentions him. It will always be fresh in everybody’s mind. Just to have that luxury and opportunity to know him and be around him and to say he was a friend.”

Tell us about the first time you met Dan Snyder?
“I think it was at ESPN afterparty, the ESPY’s afterparty. I had no clue who he was. One of his best friends, who I later find out to be Dr.Tony Roberts walked up and thought I was Michael Vick. He was disappointed when I told him I wasn’t. He kind of walked off. I think Mr.Snyder walked up behind him just to kind of smooth things out. He was like, ‘I know who you are.’ I was just again having a conversation with him. I didn’t know who he was, but I was just having conversation. It turned out to be him.”

What are you going to do now? Work for the Redskins? Work for the NFL?
“I have some things in the works, but being around the team or being on the radio…I think it would be fun. I think always having a passion for football. I’ve always been a fan. I got to find the love for the game again. I got to become a fan again with not playing and just to have that excitement for the game and to have the opportunity to talk about the game and get people the inside scoop to things that are going on. I think that would still be fun.”

So if you were working for the Redskins now you wouldn’t tell me?
“[Laughs] I’m not working for the Redskins man.”

Have you had a chance to be around Robert Griffin III? Do you know him?
“I talked to him on twitter a couple of times and yesterday was the first time I had the opportunity to meet him and chat with him, but it was in the midst of being right around the press conference. A good 10-15 minutes and I’ve always been a fan of his even when he was in school. I told him yesterday I remember telling my best friend like two years ago that man he [Robert Griffin III] needed to go the Redskins. He’s here now. I think he’s going to be great for the city. I think he’s going to bring a lot of spark and a lot of character and they are going to enjoy him.”


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(sportsradiointerviews.com)
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Clinton Portis, Sean Taylor, LaVar Arrington Among Redskins’ ’10 For 80′

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WASHINGTON – The Washington Redskins announced on Friday the 10 contributors they have added to their list of the greatest all-time – a list that now includes former running back Clinton Portis and safety Sean Taylor and linebacker LaVar Arrington.

The Redskins announced their 70 greatest players and coaches in celebration of their 70th anniversary in 2002 and added an additional 10 this year, the 80th anniversary, in a campaign they titled “10 for 80.”

Joining Portis, who announced his retirement at Redskins Park on Thursday, and Taylor, who was killed in a botched robbery at his home in 2007, among the honorees are general manager Bobby Beathard, offensive line coach Joe Bugel, offensive tackles Terry Hermeling and Jon Jansen, receiver Roy Jefferson, safety Richie Petitbon and left tackle Chris Samuels.

Players and head coaches were available to be selected in the initial group, while the additional selections announced Friday allowed for the selection of assistant coaches.


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(fredricksburg.com)
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Gulliver Prep still draws on legacy of Sean Taylor

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Miami Gulliver begins every practice commemorating the late Sean Taylor, the former two-way star with the Raiders and safety with the University of Miami and Washington Redskins who was fatally gunned down in his own home in November 2007.

Coach Earl Sims has his players come together in a moment of silence while facing the scoreboard that bears Taylor’s name. The players then put a lone index finger in the air to honor Taylor as their No. 1 and begin a thunderous rally of claps before practice begins.

The ritual, while also paying homage to the man so iconic in football circles around Miami-Dade County, also reminds current Raiders that what they’re playing for transcends themselves.

“It means something to put on this uniform, and it’s a family of guys who wore this uniform before them, and Sean Taylor, of course we tell [our players] about him,” said Sims, who is going into his seventh year with the program. “Periodically throughout the year, we show some of his highlights, and we speak about the legacy that he has left behind on this field.”

Gulliver will try to translate Taylor’s greatness that it commemorates every day into greatness of its own on the gridiron in 2012.

The Raiders, who reached the 4A regional finals and lost to district foe Booker T. Washington last season, understand that although they may have improved, so have Monsignor Pace and Miami Edison in this district that only allows two teams to qualify for the postseason.

“We can’t live off what we did last year because what we did last year allowed us to have what we had last year,” Sims says. “If we live off our reputation, we’re nothing. We have to put forth a product this year to ensure success.”

Making matters even more challenging for Gulliver is the fact that it doesn’t stack up with most of its opponents numbers-wise.

According to Sims, the Raiders currently have “55 to 60” players on both the varsity and junior varsity squads, with the rosters yet to be divided.

“It’s pretty much like that every year, though,” senior running back Bo Ellis said. “Coach Sims knows that, and that’s why he has us out here conditioning. We condition more than, I would say, any other school in Dade County, and probably anywhere else.”

Ellis, a 5-8, 185-pounder ranked the No. 25 senior in Dade going into the season, wants to be the featured back, but he believes the team doesn’t lose a beat whenever another back enters the game.

“I would say I bring a toughness to the team in the backfield, and that’s just something that all our running backs have really,” Ellis said.

At quarterback, Gulliver has brought in two transfers to compete for the starting job — Alonzo Fanakos and Jowan Watson. Fanakos is a junior, who came from Booker T, and Watson is a sophomore. They both bring a threat of the run that was absent in Gulliver’s quarterback play a year ago.

“They’re eager to learn and work hard, and basically that’s all we need,” Sims says. “We have leadership among the other guys, and we’re just going to help them with the adjustment, the transition into our offense.”

Sims is not ready to announce a leader in the quarterback battle and says both will receive equal reps in the Preseason Classic Friday at Tarpon Springs as he hopes to find his starter after that game.

Whoever wins the competition knows he’ll have some solid targets to throw the ball to, in the form of a couple of Gulliver’s trademark two-way athletes.

Wide receiver/defensive end Stacy Thomas comes in as the No. 9 senior in the Dade Top 25, and wide receiver/defensive back Cornelius Floyd is ranked 19th among Dade juniors.

Thomas takes pride in his ability to draw attention from opponents in hopes of facilitating the game for his teammates

“A lot of teams already know what I’m capable of doing, so a lot of teams will be prowling on me and that’ll free up chances for other people that we have to make plays,” Thomas said.

The versatile Thomas is listed as a four-star outside linebacker on Rivals.com and is ranked 11th in the nation at that position. He’s also being recruited by Florida to play tight end.


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(miamiherald.com)
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Robert Griffin III and Sean Taylor--rookies in name only, says Chris Cooley

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Veteran tight end Chris Cooley says quarterback Robert Griffin III is only the second Washington Redskins rookie he has seen arrive in the NFL and immediately carry himself with the confidence and demeanor of an established player.

The other, Cooley said, was the team’s late safety, Sean Taylor.

“I haven’t seen anything from him [Griffin] to say that he’s a rookie…. It is a phenomenon that he’s come in and not been a rookie,” Cooley said.

Cooley also said of Griffin: “I never see doubt in that kid’s mind.”

Griffin’s ever-growing celebrity continues to be noteworthy. After the Redskins arrived back at Dulles Airport following last week’s preseason-opening triumph at Buffalo, Cooley said, the players turned on a television—and in short order saw two commercials featuring Griffin.

“He’s everywhere,” Cooley said.


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(washingtonpost.com)
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Trial date set for Sean Taylor slaying trial

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MIAMI -- A new trial date has been set for the man accused of fatally shooting Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor during a 2007 burglary in Miami.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy on Thursday set the murder trial for Eric Rivera Jr. for Nov. 5. The trial was delayed after Rivera fired his attorney.

Rivera is one of five defendants from the Fort Myers area who are accused of killing Taylor during a robbery at the player's Miami-Dade County home. Four have pleaded not guilty and are being tried separately. Each faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

A fifth man previously pleaded guilty to murder and burglary and is likely to testify against the others.


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(miamiherald.com)
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