The Big Twenty: The life and death of Sean Taylor

JP Finlay
NBC Sports Washington

NBC Sports Washington is rolling out the 20 biggest stories in DMV sports in the past 20 years. Here is No. 3.

The moment still resonates. And it probably always will.

Every Washington Redskins fan remembers when they heard it, how they heard it, and where they were when the news broke. 

Older Redskins fans have the memories of Super Bowls and rocking RFK Stadium. For younger fans, however, there aren't Super Bowls. There's no RFK. 

But there was Sean Taylor. 

For four seasons, Washington had the best safety on the planet suited up in Burgundy and Gold. Taylor had the most swag in the NFL, talked trash, backed it up on the field and delivered some of the biggest, badass hits the league ever saw. 

In 53 starts, Taylor grabbed 12 interceptions and forced eight fumbles. 

In 2006, Taylor delivered the Redskins' only playoff win in this millennium. He recovered a fumble in a game in Tampa and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown.

The Taylor era was wild and it was ecstatic. There were lows, a DUI and a testy relationship with the media, but Taylor loved the fans. And the fans loved him, probably more than any other Redskins player since Doug Williams. For Redskins fans born after 1990, Taylor was in Riggins/Theisman territory.

And then it was over. 

Taylor was having his best season in 2007. He had five interceptions in nine games. Read that again: 5 INTs in 9 games. Combine that with 48 tackles, a forced fumble and nine passes defensed, and Taylor was on his way to an All-Pro season.

Then he got hurt, and took time off to spend with his family in Miami. 

Anybody reading this far knows the rest of this story. The pit in the stomach grows for Redskins fans as the calendar reaches the end of November. 

Taylor died on November 27, 2007, murdered in his own home while defending his family.   Even as the time passes, the hurt doesn't recede. 

Much of the pain from the dumb things said in the immediate aftermath of his death has gone away. At this point, more than 12 years later, who cares. People said dumb things. 

Now, it's about remembering the player, the elite player and the incredible physical specimen. The guy that would throw his gloves to young Redskins fans and show love to the FedEx Field crowd. 

Redskins fans loved Taylor because there was never a player like him before, and honestly, there won't be one after him either. 

D.J. Swearinger idolized Sean Taylor. Landon Collins idolized Sean Taylor. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix idolized Sean Taylor.

Taylor will never be forgotten, by Redskins fans or by Redskins players. 

It was a glimpse into greatness, and in some ways, seeing just a glimpse makes it even more romantic. More dramatic. Losing that greatness hurts. 

Twelve years later, it still hurts. 12 years from now, it will still hurt. 

Taylor died, but for Redskins fans, he will never leave. 

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The Big Twenty: The life and death of Sean Taylor originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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