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Redskins Move Taylor's Locker to FedExField


There will always be a place for Sean Taylor in the hearts of those who played with him and the fans of his thunderous hits.

Now there will be a place for people to see his locker as it was and as it has been since his horrifying and untimely death from a gunshot wound almost three years ago.

It won't be just for his closest associates to look at, and to be reminded of who he was, what he might have become and how all of that tragically ended in gunfire in his own bedroom.

Taylor's old locker at Redskins Park, an in-house touchstone and tribute, soon becomes the public's as well.

Taylor's cubicle from Redskins Park, covered recently by plywood, moves soon to FedExField's Club A Tower. Photographs were made, all items carefully packed, so that the unit can be reassembled exactly as it stood.

Experts in grief disagree on the length of mourning periods. When do the bereaved move on with their lives? At some point, in every family, the personal effects of the dearly departed go into storage or to charity and a new normal takes hold.

No one will forget Taylor or what the Redskins endured in 2007.

As they were losing 19-13 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 25, the injured Taylor was home in the Miami suburbs. A break-in ended in the worst possible way as Taylor tried to defend his family.

By Monday morning he was in the hospital, a gunshot having ripped apart the femoral artery in his leg, causing massive blood loss. On Tuesday, the 24-year-old Pro Bowl safety died.

"As far as the team goes, we have never dealt with this," head coach Joe Gibbs said then. "I have never dealt with this. We're going one hour at a time. We're all going to band together, work together and go forward together."

Owner Daniel M. Snyder was equally stunned.

"We really are so saddened by what has taken place. We really will miss Sean," he said. "For Joe and I, he was our first draft pick together."

Shaken, distracted and distraught, the Redskins would lose their next game, 17-16, at home to the Buffalo Bills, on a late field goal. It was their fourth consecutive defeat and left them with a 5-7 record and almost no realistic shot at the playoffs.

The Redskins had another game in four days, a Thursday nighter at home. But first, Snyder chartered a plane and the team went to Miami for Taylor's funeral. There was so little time to practice and no ability to focus on things as mundane as a game plan.

In that game against the Chicago Bears, quarterback Jason Campbell went down with an injury and the Redskins turned to little-used backup Todd Collins. The Redskins, driven by emotion and desperation, beat the Bears and won their next three games behind Collins to secure a wild-card playoff berth.

There was always a sense that somehow, from somewhere, Taylor had a hand in these successes.

Gibbs retired after that trying season. Jim Zorn replaced him. The Redskins moved on but Taylor's locker remained, as did his parking space at Redskins Park. The locker now moves on. The parking space is gone.

Zorn, too. And many of those who anchored the Redskins in that '07 playoff drive – Collins, Antwaan Randle El, Shawn Springs, Randy Thomas. The past must be allowed to recede. The future needs space to grow.

Taylor belongs to the great Redskins tradition, though he never got the chance to fully blossom. He was only in his fourth season but already making his mark around the NFL as a brutal hitter with great ball skills. He matured into a warmer person around his teammates and a loving father to a daughter.

"Over the last two years I've seen him grow as a person," Snyder said.

If only Taylor could have lived and continued to grow.

Tradition plays an important part in Redskins lore and this new administration of Snyder's, with Bruce Allen as general manager and Mike Shanahan as coach, never forgets that.

Allen's dad, George, coached the Redskins from 1971-77 and took them to their first Super Bowl. Bruce Allen grew up around this team. He gets it.

Taylor's locker moves to the stadium in which he delivered numerous highlight moments in a too-short career. He has never been forgotten and now he will never really be gone.

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