The Washington soccer team made an announcement Thursday that many fans felt was late. The team will retire the No. 21 jersey.
Taylor’s number will be retired as part of Sunday’s game against the Chiefs at FedEx Field, as Washington announced on its official Twitter account.
There will never be another 21 💛
On Sunday we will officially withdraw Sean Taylor’s number
– Washington Soccer Team (@WashingtonNFL) October 14, 2021
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Taylor was the fifth pick in the 2004 NFL Draft and played 55 games for Washington. He totaled 305 tackles, 12 interceptions, 43 passing defenses, eight forced fumbles and two sacks during his three-and-a-half-season career. He made the Pro Bowl in each of his last two seasons and is known for his huge success over Bills punter Brian Moorman in that contest.
Sadly, Taylor’s life and career were cut short as he was assassinated in November 2007 after thieves broke into his Miami home. They shot him in the leg during the robbery and cut his femoral artery. He was only 24 years old.
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Taylor was on his way to becoming one of the best safeties in the NFL. He had five interceptions in nine games in 2007 at the time of his death. He was also a fan favorite, so it’s easy to understand why Washington is retiring his number.
However, the team has come under fire for the timing of the announcement. The NFL is currently embroiled in a scandal stemming from 650,000 emails generated from an investigation into Washington’s workplace culture under owner Dan Snyder. The emails, most of which were correspondence with GM / team president Bruce Allen for a decade, have led to the departure of Jon Gruden from the Raiders and criticism of ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Many NFL personalities and members of the media took to Twitter and said the announcement felt like an attempt to distract from Washington’s involvement in that scandal. They also noted that Washington gave months ‘notice for the recall of Bobby Mitchell’s jersey last year, while giving just days’ notice of Taylor’s ceremony.
He was not removed on the 10th anniversary of his death in 2017.
He will not be removed on the anniversary of his death this year.
They are withdrawing it, 4 days in advance, amid an off-the-field scandal.
Sean Taylor is the GOAT.
Don’t use it as a distraction. https://t.co/3kg4EbhEMy
– Chad Ryan (@ChadwikoTWW) October 14, 2021
They announced the retirement of Bobby Mitchell’s jersey in June for a ceremony in September.
They announced the removal of Sean Taylor’s jersey in October. 14 for an Oct. 17th ceremony.
Forgive my skepticism.
– JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) October 14, 2021
Sean Taylor deserves this honor a thousand times over. Announcing this on the Thursday of a week in which your organization’s impropriety is back in the news is, at BEST, deaf / unconscious, and at WORST, the gross use of a man’s legacy as a deodorant for the situation.
– Mike Golic Jr (@mikegolicjr) October 14, 2021
Sean Taylor is one of my favorite players. I know many who feel the same way. But the timing of this feels great. Honoring Taylor’s legacy doesn’t deserve to come with a cloud of questions like now
At best I wasn’t seeing this is sad
In the worst case, I was using it is sick https://t.co/gl9kPgvyIJ
– Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) October 14, 2021
Giving fans zero notice about the removal of Sean Taylor’s number is stupid and insulting.
– Burgundy Blog (@BurgundyBlog) October 14, 2021
I think it’s clear that like many other past players and countless fans, Sean Taylor deserved and deserves better than this organization.
– Pete Hailey (@PeteHaileyNBCS) October 14, 2021
and they are foolish enough to think such a thing would work. the worst part, if they do it for cynical reasons, is that they will ruin what should be a great time for Taylor’s family and fans. https://t.co/Q9DGFeI9Ix
– bomani (@bomani_jones) October 14, 2021
You’re last in the NFL in attendance.
You’re starving for a good pub.
You have a great beloved franchise whose jersey is perhaps the most popular you own and is being retired.
And you give fans just three days notice.
– Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) October 14, 2021
Sean Taylor’s number has been unofficially retired, so this is a good thing, and I’m happy for all of Taylor’s friends and family that it’s happening.
But the timing of this … I mean, come on … https://t.co/qwm1rkWI03
– Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 14, 2021
Using Sean Taylor as a PR stunt and picking up his number 3 days in advance is all you need to know about how fanatic Dan Snyder can be. Truly a bad person through and through.
– Nate (@BarstoolNate) October 14, 2021
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Washington addressed the speculation shortly after its announcement, explaining that the event had been in the works for weeks.
“We apologize to fans who would have liked more notice and will continue to share with fans the ways we will celebrate Sean Taylor’s legacy over the next month,” said a team spokesperson, per Matthew Paras.
Team president Jason Wright also apologized for the “short notice” given regarding the removal of Taylor’s jersey.
We wanted to do something that we had to do a long time by retiring the player numbers. Months ago we planned for Bobby Mitchell and Sean Taylor to be the top two. Seeing the reaction, I am very sorry that the short notice did not adequately reflect the impact Sean had. The president’s letter is yet to come …
– Jason Wright (@whoisjwright) October 14, 2021