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In the prime of youth

I've been dreading writing this all morning, for a lot of reasons, the biggest one being that a 24-year-old man with an 18-month-old daughter, who was doing nothing but relaxing at home late one night -- and a man who had a long, successful and wealthy life ahead of him -- is dead. That's what I hope people will understand about Sean Taylor, and I had a chance to talk about it this morning with Drew Forrester on WNST-AM's Comcast Morning Show, in my regular Tuesday 9 a.m. spot.

But I have this fear that it's not what some people are going to get from this horrible news. Already, from fans but also, regrettably, from people in my business, this story is being centered on his troubled past, tangles with the law, some involving guns.

A couple of talk-show dopes I listened to before leaving San Diego yesterday -- Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio and Josh Rosenberg on XTRA Sports 1360 AM in San Diego -- figured that the breaking news about the shooting, when Taylor was in critical condition and gaps in information were just being filled in, gave them great opportunity to discuss (in Cowherd's case) how it shouldn't be any surprise that he got gunned down because he's not a good guy, like Tiki Barber or Tom Brady, and to discuss (in Rosenberg's case) the NFL's player code of conduct and mention the likes of Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson. This, because Taylor was a victim of an armed break-in in his home in the middle of the night, with his girlfriend and baby girl with him.

I hate this business sometimes.

Unfortunately, the same sort of thing happened when the Broncos' Darrent Williams was shot to death last New Year's morning: there seemed to be some need to find out whether Williams was somehow culpable for his own violent death. ("Did he have gang affiliations?'' No, but he did have infant children, like Taylor.) Same thing a year ago, when the University of Miami's Bryant Pata was killed the week before the Maryland game. And when, over the summer, NBA players Eddy Curry and Antoine Walker were robbed at gunpoint in their homes and tied up.

People were having a hard time distinguishing victims from perpetrators. For some reason. I can't imagine what that reason could be. ESPN.com writer LZ Granderson, after the Curry and Walker incidents, wondered the same thing.

Here is some of The Washington Post's coverage. And the Miami Herald's. And from the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, our corporate sister paper.

At some point, we'll discuss whether the Redskins should play this week. Off the top of my head, and in full knowledge of what a logistical nightmare switching the game would be ... I say no.

Comments

Steele This was not a random B and E. Someone from his thug past/present.

Ask yourself why this doesn't happen to white players? Get real get honest.

Now this Mr Steele, is a "where were you when" type of story along the line of Len Bias

Um...what was that you were saying not that long ago about this being the worst sports year ever? And we've still got a whole month to go! Un-freaking-believable. I understand enough of this business to know when the story first breaks, you write as much as you can, which means a lot of background at first, which means in Taylor's case, a lot of baggage in that background (unfortunately). What will be interesting to see, as you note, is whether that baggage-laden background gets slowly wallpapered over by, like, actual FACTS in the case as they develop, or whether they'll stay there, twisting slowly in the wind, spreading whatever ominous shadow they will over, like, the actual FACTS, whatever they will be.

Mr. Steele,
I am a big Taylor fan, just so you know. However, the questions arise because after several alledged break-ins, nothing was taken, details are sketchy at best, and full disclosure hasn't happened to allow a clearer explanation of this senseless loss. I don't think it is unfair to question why. I don't think it is unfair to consider all the options. Was it a jealous former of the girlfriend? Was it a debt unsettled from college? Was it a disgruntled WR that felt he was hit too hard or OOB. We know that these things all happen. They have throughout history. Of course, it could actually be a robber intent on stealing his silverware and thought he had it locked up in his bedroom. My prayers go out to his family. Let reporters quit making accusations and print what actually happened, not use it as a means to a political end.

David,

I'm sorry that you had to listen to a clown like Cowherd; I'll assume your radio was busted. He's riding the coattails of every shock jock who ever popped a rating, and the fact that ESPN employs him should cause them a great deal of embarrassment on a daily basis.

Tragic news about Taylor. All the best to his family. I'm 25 myself, and this kind of thing is a stunning reminder of our mortality.

Realist, what are you talkin about! This man was doing nothing wrong. This could of just as well happened to ed reed and you would be agreeing with this article. This is a terrible tragedy and the way espn and other press are only talking about taylors troubled past is awful!

In response to "realist", a similar incident happend last year in Miami to a former UM Basketball player who was white, a doctor and had no run ins with the law. He died on a restaurant parking lot. It was senseless.

l have no complaints about your article for the most parts its on point, but if you read your colleagues, like Leonard Shapiro article in the Washington Post have written you will see why people think that people in your profession are the scum of the earth.

I have heard a lot of people, including David Steele, critisize other reporters for bringing up Taylor's past when discussing this tragedy......and it is tragic when a young man is gunned down in the prime of life. It is senseless whether the victim is an NFL Player, UM Student or some kid that nobody heard of living paycheck to paycheck to provide for his wife and young child.
But, I don't know how you can discuss this tragic act, without considering Taylor's past, who he associates with, where he hangs out, people he has crossed paths with. Everything has to be considered and discussed.
You can't just talk about the good without talking about was wasn't so good......
Somebody made the comparison with Tom Brady and Tiki Barber and how these kinds of things never seem to happen to them.....well, maybe there's a reason.
Because they don't associate with known criminals or engage in activites that run a higher risk than the general population.
In no way am I saying that Taylor somehow got what he deserves,.....he didn't,....nobody deserves to have their life taken from them by a coward in the darkness.
Even though many reports have come foward about how Sean Taylor has really made strides in maturity and responsiblity in the past year or two,....you have to face to possibility that his past caught up to him in a very tragic way.

You can't jump to conclusions using what little knowledge you gain from reading a paper or watching television. The media is a for profit business and they'll report whatever sells. Realist, take your own advice. Get real and wake up.

Last week I read speculation about Samri Rolle's illness ranging from mental sickness to HIV. No facts involved, just shotgun opinions based on rumor. Now, with no facts presented, people think they have Taylor's death figured out. People should be ashamed of themselves. The internet has created a generation of computer users with a keyboard and no accountability, an increasingly dangerous combination.

If you were to develop a list of "What NFL player is going to get shot and killed" this year, Sean Taylor would be on the short list with Packman Jones and Tank Johnson. Bad things happen to bad people.

Sean was "keeping it real" by continuing to hang with the wrong crowd, now Sean's real alright, real dead.

And why weren't you writing about how Sean turned it around?

The sad lesson is that Sean Taylor sipped from the selfish cup probably around age 12, he never had respect for others... as Micheal Wilbon said, "I'm not suprised." Sad, but not suprised.

Wilbon was the first media member I heard implying that Taylor's past somehow justified his murder or was related to it. I don't care what anyone thinks they knew about this man he did not deserve to be murdered in his own home. It is certainly relevant to reporting this story to mention things that happened in Taylor's past without implying it as a reason for the situation. What isn't appropriate is for a reporter to then say, "I'm not surprised." Wilbon's personal level of surprise is not relevant and rather callous and classless. He even had the nerve to hold himself and Isiah Thomas as examples as to how to "leave the hood behind." What a pompous, self-asbsorbed jerk. I would also like to know if he would have made the same remarks if Brett Favre had been shot to death in a hunting accident.

The media manifest/perpetuates how we inneract, prejudge, miscommunicate, cast off, disillusion, not consider, and desensitizes the american society even in tragic situations.Alot of media journalist believe the only headline that is worthy of posting has to imply that the negatives of one's life must out way the good and to add more to the story then the story indicates. A sad state of affairs in this so called free society. When you purposely handcuff yourself to another persons woes. I would say you are slave to your own ill will. Tell us something we don't Know!!! That would really be refreshing. Cause when you go. I wonder what they may print about you!!! It really is disappointing to see that man just left us and already those whom seem jealous could'nt allow 24 hours to dreadge up past transgressions with no hint that man played a part in the local development of young inner city youth as well as other civic events. Freedom of speech is great, but play nice.

David- It's great to sympathize with the tragedy. I was saddened by the news as well, especially for the child's sake. But to call your colleagues "dopes" for their takes on the situation is just as dopey. Remember a couple years ago when this same man was weilding a gun at some people and had to plea bargain out of it? Gee, I wonder why people might think this wasn't a robbery but just payback.
Maybe it was a random act of violence (twice in 8 days). Or maybe what goes around comes around. I for one will reserve judgement. And who am I to judge anyway. But just because someone is dead, doesn't make them a saint.
Talk show hosts and newspaper writers are paid to give their opinion and speculate. Don't villify them for doing their jobs.
One more thing, my feeling is that the Redskins will want to play, because that's what Sean Taylor would've wanted.

The obvious reason is these players are black. I read the comments blaming Walker for being robbed because he owned a nice watch. IF Tom Brady had been robbed or Peyton Manning or Steve Nash the sentiment would be different.

People want answers which is why the speculation about his past creeps up. The police NEED answers which is why any and all possibilities have to be explored. There is nothing new about athletes, be they football or basketball players, boxers or outfielders, having a hard time leaving their past behind. "Friends" and I use that word lightly, all seem to want a piece of the neighborhood guy who made good. Many of these people believe that the athlete "owes" them something. Many are jealous which can lead to a type of hatred especially if the person in question doesn't acquiesce to his wishes. We also know that the street way to deal with those feelings are different than the way suburban society might edal with them. This is why speculation of gang related activity pops up. I would not compare this to PAC MAN as he seems to be an instigator not a victim. I would say however that Taylor's past; where he was brought up, the people he came into contact with and the value system or lack there of that is present might have played a part in the circumstances surrounding his death.

David- Thank you for posting my comment. Mr. Preston sometimes won't, maybe because their too controversial. I never use foul language or anything like that. Thanks again for respecting my opinion even though it differs from yours.
God Bless- Jason

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