The Washington Football Team announced on it would retire Sean Taylor’s No. 21 jersey on Sunday, during its Week 6 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Taylor’s jersey retirement ceremony will be a part of the larger Alumni weekend event, where the team will honor 100 former players before the beginning of Sunday’s game. According to a press release from the team, Taylor’s family will be with the team on the field.
The team also announced they will commemorate the renaming of the road leading to FedExField as Sean Taylor Road with family and friends of Taylor before the game.
“I came into the NFL the same year as Sean Taylor and immediately his athletic ability, resilience, grit, and relentless work ethic set him apart. I and many others looked to him as a role model,” Washington Football Team President Jason Wright said in a statement. “The fact that he was tragically taken so early hurt our player community, but also our fans, coaches, and staff. We will continue to remember him and hold him up as an example of professionalism and excellence, and we will all strive to mirror his excellence in our own ways.”
Taylor is the third player in franchise history to receive this honor, along with No. 33 Sammy Baugh, and No. 49 Bobby Mitchell. Bobby Mitchell’s jersey retirement ceremony was held in Week 2, in the game against the New York Giants.
Taylor played for Washington during all four seasons of his NFL career. After being selected with the 5th overall and first Washington Football Team pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Taylor established himself as one of the top young safeties in the league and a fan favorite. Following a successful rookie year, Taylor started 15 games and led Washington to its first playoff win in six years. By 2006, Taylor was one of the premier defenders in the NFL. Then, tragically on November 27, 2007, Sean Taylor’s life was cut short after being shot during a robbery attempt on his Florida home. Posthumously, Taylor was honored by the NFL and named a 2nd team All-Pro selection in 2007. The following year, Washington announced he would be inducted as only the 43rd member of the Washington Ring of Fame.
News of this announcement drew a lot of frustration from fans, and former players alike; many who have questioned the timing of the announcement, with only three days notice.
Team President Jason Wright issued an apology on Thursday night, through his “President’s Brief”, saying the team “hurt many of our fans deeply.”
“We thought that saving the news for a game week reveal was the best way to focus the message on Sean and his legacy. We didn’t realize that so many of you wanted to make a trip to FedExField to be present for this moment — a true lack of understanding of what you, the lifeblood of this franchise, needed to mourn our collective loss and celebrate Sean’s legacy.” Team President Jason Wright wrote in his statement.
In the morning, the team’s statement indicated the first 10,000 fans to enter the stadium would receive a commemorative rally towel, similar to the one created following Taylor’s death. In Wright’s apology, he said the towels would also be made available for purchase for the fans, for $21 a piece, and all proceeds would go to a “legacy project” in honor of Sean Taylor, that will be led by his daughter Jackie Taylor.