Sean Taylor was one of the most electrifying defensive players in NFL history.
Before his tragic death in November of 2007, Taylor had established himself as a Pro Bowl safety for the Washington Redskins. ESPN recently ran a feature on the approaching 10th anniversary of Taylor’s most dominant game, which came on Oct. 14, 2007 against the Brett Favre-led Green Bay Packers.
It’s a great piece, and it makes one thing incredibly clear: Sean Taylor refused to be outworked. He made a habit of jogging the journey between his apartment and the team facility, refusing a ride whenever a teammate offered one.
“You started hearing stories of him getting dropped off at the facility in the morning and then he’d jog back home. Then he started jogging to work and jogging home. In everyone’s eyes he was already one of the best, but his thought was he’s going to go even further and higher,” former Redskins running back Clinton Portis said. It was about a 3-mile jog from Taylor’s apartment to the facility, meaning he’d jog an extra 6 miles a day when he ran to the facility and back.
But that was just one example of Taylor’s insatiable work ethic. Gregg Williams, who served as Washington’s defensive coordinator during Taylor’s time with the team, recalls seeing him lift three times a day. “We had three lifting sessions (and) you’d be assigned to one. He would go in and lift in all three sessions. One time (former Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs) brought me into his office and pointed to Sean an hour before practice jogging laps around the field and working on footwork drills,” Williams said. “He thinks he’s doing it when no one else is watching. He didn’t want credit; his credit is exerting his will on people on the field.” Taylor was also known for running 100-yard sprints before practice.
It’s painful to imagine just how good Taylor could’ve been if he was able to leave the NFL on his own terms. His life was cut short just as his body and mind were reaching their football peak. After the aforementioned game, in which Taylor recorded 3 tackles, 4 passes defended, 2 interceptions and a forced fumble, he didn’t show a single sign of fatigue. “(Taylor) said something to effect of, ‘I could have played a whole other game. I’m in that good of shape,’” said former Redskins director of pro personnel Louis Riddick. “I asked him if he was tired or emotionally spent. He said, ‘No. This is what I’ve been training for. It’s why I changed my body. It’s why I trained in the offseason.”
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